The myopia epidemic is on the rise, and it is especially high amongst children in urban Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and so on. While most parents believe that genetics is the sole reason for their child’s myopia, environmental factors play a huge role in its cause and effect as well. Our environment can either increase or reduce the risk of myopia development, and it is up to us to utilise it fittingly.
Who are the most susceptible to the myopia epidemic?
A meta-analysis done in 2019 found that children living in urban areas are 2.6 times more likely to develop myopia as compared to children living in rural areas. A possible reason could be attributed to the rigorous education systems that urban school children often experience, where near-work activities (e.g. reading and writing) are prevalent and outdoor activities often viewed as inessential.
(Rigorous education systems are common in Asian countries - image taken from internet)
Furthermore, academic competitiveness amongst children is more culturally ingrained in Asian countries than in Western countries. Hence, children in urban Asian countries are the most susceptible to get contracted with myopia.
(Asian children living in urban areas are most susceptible to myopia!)
Say yes to outdoors!
Based on the 2015 World Health Organisation report on the impact of myopia, when children spend more than two hours outdoors every day, the risk of developing myopia will be reduced or even slow down the progression of myopia for those with existing prescription.
As objects in an indoor environment are generally closer, our eyes are more prone to experiencing hyperopic defocus – a phenomenon where light in the periphery focuses in front of the retina, causing our eyes to grow disproportionately. Hence, ensuring sufficient outdoor exposure to our eyes can help to prevent the development of hyperopic defocus and significantly reduce the risk of developing myopia.
(Illustration of hyperopic defocus on the eye - image taken from internet)
Once a person is contracted with myopia, it will be irreversible, and it can only be managed by slowing down its progression. That is why more schools (such as those in China and Singapore) have been implementing more outdoor activities to reduce the risk of myopia in children.
The importance of sunglasses
Spending more outdoor time is beneficial only if there is proper eyewear protection. As we have mentioned in our previous blog post, inadequate eyewear protection could result in the cause of eye diseases such as cataracts and keratitis (cornea burns) from harmful UV rays.
(“Cloudy” lens from cataract sufferers will experience decrease in vision - image taken from internet)
Sunglasses for children with prescription
While sunglasses are especially essential for children, they can be inconvenient, costly or simply unfeasible for children who are already wearing spectacles. Hence, our newly patented product – the Eyelet SunPlus – aims to solve all the underlying issues of existing sunglass options for those children.
(The Eyelet SunPlus)
As we see the importance of outdoor activities for children, we must also provide them with the best protection so that they can not only enjoy their outdoor time, but also reduce further deterioration of prescription and prevent serious eye damage from harmful UV rays. Encourage your children to play outdoors and be sure to protect their eyes from UV rays too!