Get children outdoors everyday for good eye health.
Rise in short-sightedness linked to children being indoors
Parents have been advised to get their children outdoors every day to help combat an alarming rise in short-sightedness.
Launching Bright Eyes children’s eye health week, which takes place this week from November 2-7, the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) advised families to put aside the video games, tablets, and TV screens and get outdoors.
AOI Optometric Advisor Lynda McGivney-Nolan said several recent international studies show an alarming increase in short-sightedness particularly in urban areas.
“Short-sightedness (myopia) is increasing by up to 80% in some parts of the world – and there are clear signs of a significant rise in Ireland too. All of the major studies conclude that spending time outdoors on a daily basis, significantly reduces the risk of developing myopia. The message is clear, children need to get outdoors more to reduce this risk.”
Announcing the Bright Eyes campaign, Ms. McGivney-Nolan said early detection of children’s eye sight problems is critically important as vision problems can lead to learning difficulties and underperformance in school and in sporting activities.
“Some parents may be reluctant to let their child wear glasses for fear that this will make their eyesight worse. However, the opposite is true. Failing to wear glasses when they have been prescribed, or failure to catch vision problems in the early stages can lead to faster deterioration.”
Dublin Institute of Technology Professor of Optometry James Loughman said that having even a mild level of myopia doubles the risk of getting glaucoma and cataract as we get older. It also increases the risk of other conditions, such as a retinal detachments and myopic maculopathy, by up to tenfold.
“It is surprising to most people to learn that myopia-related eye disease is the biggest cause of blindness in the working age population. To put this into perspective, being short sighted is as bad for your eye health as smoking or high blood pressure is for your heart,” he said.
The Association of Optometrists is encouraging parents to avail of the AOI’s 6 Point Vision Check which will be available at participating opticians throughout the week.
The Association is also encouraging parents to follow the top tips for Brighter Eyes which include:
• Get your children outdoors; studies show that children who get daily time outdoors are less likely to develop problems with their eyesight
• Get your child’s eyes checked annually with the Bright Eyes 6 Point Vision Check; a child who cannot see clearly cannot learn well
• Limit tablet and smart phone use; as well as keeping children indoors and causing children to spend too much time looking close up, tablet and smart phone can also affect body and sleep rhythms which in turn have been linked to vision problems
• Encourage your child to do plenty of activities to improve hand-eye co-ordination. Good hand eye co-ordination brings improved writing, reading and learning skills.