short sighted, myopia

​What causes short-sightedness?​

​​​​​​​A​bout half the children in Singapore have myopia — also known as short-sightedness — by the time they are 12 years old. If you have myopia, things that are close to you can be seen clearly, but objects that are further away will look blur. 

Myopia can lead to potentially blinding problems like amblyopia (lazy eye) and glaucoma (where there is increased fluid pressure in the eyeball). 

Can myopia be cured? 

Currently, there is no cure for myopia. Spectacles or contact lenses are needed to correct it in order to see distant objects clearly. 

Laser surgery such as LASIK does not cure myopia. The procedure shapes the cornea to act like a focusing lens. It does not treat the elongated myopic eyeball. Also, LASIK is rarely performed in children as their eyes are still developing. 

Who is likely to develop myopia? 

Your child is more likely to develop myopia if you and/or your ​spouse suffer from myopia. Unnecessary near work and lack of outdoor play also contribute​ to myopia.

Near work are visual activities that are done at close distance, up to an arm’s length away. This includes: 

  • ​​Reading 
  • Writing 
  • Using a computer 
  • Drawing and painting 
  • Playing with games on handheld devices, such as mobile phones 
  • Doing craft work using small objects 

What complications could arise from myopia? 

High degrees of myopia could lead to potentially blinding complications such as: 

1. Amblyopia or “lazy eye” 

There is reduced vision in an eye that did not develop normally during early childhood. Unless treated, vision in the weaker eye will be permanently blurred. 

2. Cataract 

The lens in the eye becomes cloudy, causing blurred vision.​ 

3. Glaucoma 

There is increased fluid pressure within the eyeball. Left untreated, this can cause blindness. 

4. Retinal detachment 

This is a serious condition when the retina has separated from the eyeball. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness. 

5. Macular degeneration 

The central part of the retina that gives the clearest vision degenerates. 

Good eye care habits 

Spending time outdoors has shown to have a protective effect against myopia and myopia progression. It is recommended that your child should spend at least 2 hours a day outdoors where there is sunlight exposure.

Let your child engage in outdoor fun every day. You can play a sport together, have a picnic, go for walks in the park — or just have fun in the playground. An active lifestyle also has other benefits. It offers your child: 

  • ​​​A fun way to stay healthy. 
  • Relaxation. 
  • Opportunities to make new friends. 
  • Self-awareness through play. 
  • Life skills such as communication and sociability.​ 

​Healthy habits 

Limit the use of digital devices and limit the time spent on continuous near work.

• When reading 

Ensure that there is adequate lighting. Choose books with larger print. Sit upright and hold the book a distance away. 

• At the computer, playing video games or watching TV

Ensure that the environment is well lit. Reduce screen glare. Encourage your child to take frequent breaks. Sit upright with the centre of the screen at eye level.

The role of parents 

You can help to delay your child’s onset and progression of myopia. Here are some tips: 

  • Encourage your child to spend at least 2 hours outdoors every day. 
  • Do not let your child engage in near work for long, continuous stretches. 
  • Encourage your child to take frequent breaks when doing near work. 

Medical Treatment​​​​

Low-concentration Atropine eye drops can be used to slow down myopia progression in children. Please consult an eye specialist for more details. 

Spectacles: what you need to know 

​Here are some tips on how to maintain your spectacles, if you or your child wears them. 

  • ​When not using them, store your spectacles in their protective case. ​​
  • Wash them in warm water. 
  • Dry them with soft cotton or cleaning cloth. 
  • Do not use tissue paper or your T-shirt to wipe as these can scratch the lenses. 
  • Wash or blow off dust or grit. 
  • Do not place your spectacles with the lenses facing down. 
  • Do not put your spectacles in your pocket - they may fall out or get bent out of shape. 
  • Put on or take off your glasses with both hands.​

Parent-Child Activities​: Get Active!

Engage in these fun activities with your child to help exercise his eyes​. 

​Let’s play ball 

Play ball games to improve eye-hand coordination. Use balloons or light beach balls to play toss-and-catch with younger children. Teach older kids how to play racquet games like badminton and set up games with friends and neighbours. Let your child have fun practising how to hit with a kid-sized racquet and a shuttlecock. 

A snappy reminder 

Go outdoors and play to help your child keep myopia at bay. Take your child outside to a park or playground. Encourage your child to take photos of interesting things he sees around him. To enable the activity to be more interesting, you can set a theme for your child. For example, the theme can be “pictures of green and clean things”. Alternatively, if your child is interested in drawing, he can choose to draw interesting objects. Back​ home, you can print the photos and collate them in an album or display them on a wall or pin them to a noticeboard. 

“I spy” 

Play the “I Spy” game with your child when you are out, walking in a park, or taking a bus or car ride. This will encourage him to look at things in the distance and also develop his observation skills.


Read these next: