What do I need to do?
Peter Murphy, Director of Eyecare and Community recommends a number of things you can do for your children which may minimise the future progression of myopia. Remember, your kids mirror your actions, so choose to introduce these suggestions into your lifestyle, as well as your child’s.
Schedule an appointment with your local OPSM optometrist
As a priority, book in regular eye examinations for your child based on their eye health needs. Speak with your optometrist about any symptoms you have noticed. In an ideal world, you want to detect the condition prior to your child starting school, and remedy as required.
We all scream for screen time
Introducing restrictions on screen time for your family is important. For necessary screen time, put reminders on your device to take a 2-3 minute break every 45 minutes. Place any other materials you need to look at, at the same distance as your screen to minimise the need for your eyes to readjust. Blink frequently, and if screen time is excessive, look into ordering anti-reflective coating on your glasses to minimise glare.
Take regular eye breaks
Peter suggests, “giving the eyes regular breaks using the ‘20/20/20 rule’ – after every 20 minutes of screen time, shift your eyes to look at an object around 20 metres away, for at least 20 seconds. The ideal addition to this practice would be to take regular breaks throughout the day by getting outside and going for a stroll.”
Time for play!
Encourage interactive play with your child from a young age. From stacking building blocks to colouring in, this will help improve your child’s visual skills, and visually-guided eye-hand-body coordination, fine motor skills and visual perceptual abilities.
Keep an eye on your child
Look out for any delays in your child’s development as this may indicate a vision problem. This could include difficulty with the recognition of colours, shapes, letters, and numbers. It is also important to be aware of the presence of vision problems like crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia).
Protect your protege
Buy the proper safety equipment for your child’s activities. From sports to science, it is crucial your children have the correct equipment for these activities. Don’t forget about protecting from things you can’t physically see - like UV rays!
Fun in the sun
Make time for outdoor play with your children. Focus on activities that promote hand-eye coordination. This could include throwing and catching a ball, or bike riding.
Your eyes are big fans of food rich in antioxidants and omega oils. Ensure your child’s diet includes foods with these nutrients weekly. Suggestions include salmon, fruit (particularly berries), leafy green vegetables, and eggs.