40% of the overall population of the Philippines is currently struggling with myopia.
Based on a 2018 study by the Philippine Eye Research Institute (Peri), in each class of 40 Filipino students, four were found to have impaired vision.
While children typically develop myopia between the ages of eight and twelve, younger children are now showing signs of being myopic.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is not uncommon in every part of the world. A person with myopia could only see nearby while perceiving distant objects blurry and out of focus.
In 2019, it was reported that nearly 40 percent of the overall population of the Philippines is currently struggling with myopia. That was before the pandemic happened. But since everyone stayed at home for months, we’ve spent more time with our gadgets than ever.
It was a no-brainer that children in many households turned to smartphones and computers for entertainment such as Roblox and YouTube. As a result, many kids have their eye grades increased more quickly than the pre-pandemic times. Thus, the term quarantine myopia, or lockdown-induced shortsightedness, was coined.
Now that on-campus classes are now mandated at full capacity by the government, if their vision problem isn’t corrected, this will negatively affect their abilities to learn in school, do household chores, and have fun in daily life.
While it may sound unalarming to many Filipinos, nearsightedness can develop slowly or rapidly, leading to other eye diseases that might severely affect anyone, regardless of age and gender, unless treated early. Among those who are at risk of getting diagnosed with myopia are children and young adolescents.
What Causes Myopia?
There are many factors that may cause myopia. Typically, myopia is the result of an excessively curved cornea or lens, causing light to concentrate in front of the retina. Myopia of this kind frequently doesn’t progress and is treatable with contact lenses or regular glasses.
Another common factor is an elongated eye. Although the cornea and lens are properly shaped, the longer eye, which places the retina further from the cornea and lens, causes the light to focus in front of the retina once more. However, this type of myopia is generally always progressive and grows worse with time.
Genetics is also a factor that plays a role in myopia. When one or both parents have myopia, their children have a big chance of inheriting it. While a family history of nearsightedness puts children at risk of developing vision problems, what seems to be more significant in the progression of myopia are lifestyle factors.
Children and teenagers who spend substantial time reading, playing video games on computers, tablets, or mobile phones, or engaging in other strenuous close visual work are possibly more susceptible to developing nearsightedness.
What Makes Myopia Dangerous to Children?
Based on a 2018 study by the Philippine Eye Research Institute (Peri), in each class of 40 Filipino students, four were found to have impaired vision. Of these, three may have refractive errors and one may have amblyopia, or "lazy eye."
While children typically develop myopia between the ages of eight and twelve, younger children are now showing signs of being myopic. Unfortunately, many children with nearsightedness are left untreated, which means that their myopia will get progressively worse over time.
It’s true that children with untreated myopia wouldn’t complain nor realize that they have nearsightedness. Untreated myopia may also ultimately compromise their eyesight once they reach adulthood by causing more dangerous eye problems such as:
What Do Parents Need to Know?
Parents can speculate that their children are experiencing nearsightedness if they have blurry vision when looking at distant objects. As a result, they might sit closer in front of the television, go in front of the classroom just to write notes, squint their eyelids to see clearly, and encounter headaches caused by visual discomfort.
The solution is simple: cut their screen time and motivate them to spend more time outdoors in natural light. It’s also advised to hold gadgets not too close to the eyes. In Singapore and other countries with high rates of myopia, children are encouraged to leave their gadgets at home and enjoy outdoor activities in order to stop the progression of eye disease.
Since there will be times when they need to use their computer for an extended period, make sure to follow the 20-20-20 rule in order to prevent digital eye strain.
Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Our eyes become fatigued and overworked when we stare at screens. However, when we look at objects that are far, our eyes are in their most relaxed state. This ensures that the eyes aren’t becoming strained in their fixed viewing position.
For parents, seeing their kids suffer from low vision could be worrying. Although there is no permanent cure for this eye condition, the goal is to keep it from getting worse through early detection which can delay its progression and make it more controllable.
Interested to learn further about the most effective treatments for correcting myopia? We specialize in treating children with myopia and have effective options available. At Eyecare Deluxe, Dr. Lareen Dawn Tan is dedicated to guiding parents and children through all their vision needs. To schedule an appointment, contact us today!