Ask the Expert Series: Caring for your kids eyes

According to Singapore National Eye Centre's Myopia Centre (SNEC), by Primary 6 the myopia rate amongst children in Singapore is as high as 65% ? Hence, for this Ask the Expert Session we have TWO experts who will be answering all your questions on myopia and how to care for your kids eyes ?? These two experts are Chen Weiwen: founder of My Eye Matters and Janet Chung: Principal Optometrist, PediaOptix. So start asking your burning questions in the comments section on caring for your kids eyes!

Ask the Expert Series: Caring for your kids eyes
22 Replies
 profile icon
Write a reply

What’s the earliest age to test for child’s eyesight? When does myopia start in kids?

2y ago

It would ideal to have your child's eyes first checked between 6-18months old to rule out any congenital eye problems, like squints and lazy eyes, or if any underlying congenital eye degrees. Myopia can occur anytime. But if it's congenital, means it can happen even at birth, if it's environmentally induced, often around school age. which is round about 6-7 years old.

1)There many alternative treatments for myopia...eg : eye massage. Any that you will recommend?

2y ago

Myopia occurs when the focal point falls in front of the retina (back part of the eye) hence once sees image blurry. This is because the eye is too long. Optical correction brings the image to the right position so you can see clearly again. Hence being a structural problem, eye massages do not treat myopia, or correct myopia. It may provide some relief in eye fatigue etc. The real treatment to myopia is if one can shorten the eyeball length, but that is impossible. As optometrist, apart from prescribing the right pair of glasses, myopia control methods are suggested to slow down the progression, or elongation of the eyeball, so it won't reach dangerous high degrees which causes blinding conditions.

Hi there! What is the short and long term impact of screen time on my kids’ eyes? TIA

2y ago

Extended screen time can cause some issues with our children’s eyes. Short term impact can include frequent blinking, rubbing of eyes, teary eyes etc which all suggests that the eyes are strained and overworked. In the long term, this may even trigger the onset and progression of myopia.

Must I wait for my child to know his alphabets before bringing him for an eye check?

2y ago

You do not need to wait for your child to know his alphabets or able to communicate before having his first eye check. Trained optometrists would be able to conduct relevant examinations that are age appropriate without much hassle. Hence we do recommend a child’s first eye check between 6-18months old.

Hi doctor. What is the maximum screen time my child can have in a day?

2y ago

There’s no magic number to this. But the rule is to take breaks, every 20 minutes of near work (including screen), look at 20 feet away for 20 seconds- we call this the 20-20-20 rule. So there isn’t a fix rule of how much screen time. This applies for adults too. But for a young child, they shouldn’t need be subjected to the need of full day of screen time. We should allow a variety of activities for our young child, this helps cultivate good habits and healthy lifestyle.

How can we soothe our eyes after staring at our screens for long hours?

2y ago

First of all, take a break! Stop for awhile, and only return if absolutely necessary. For a young child, as adults we will have to help him/her to set the right habits- sitting upright, adequate distance away from the screens, and to stop every 15-20mins, and rest. 20-20-20 rule.

What causes astigmatism instead of normal short sightedness?

2y ago

Astigmatism is actually due to irregular cornea (front part of the eye) shape. It causes more than one focal point, hence one may comment seeing double or shadows. It can be congenital which means it is present at a young age, and it can be also due to poor vision habits like reading in poor lighting, poor postures, inadequate vision breaks etc. The latter can occur at school age, or even adulthood.

What are the common eye conditions in babies and toddlers?

2y ago

Common eye conditions occurring in the first few growing years include amblyopia (lazy eyes) and strabismus (squints). These eye problems usually occur when the eye and brain are still developing, hence needs to be detected as early as possible and treated early before the development stabilises. It is important to note that some eye conditions that concern vision development occurs from a very young age, even before they start school. If not treated early, some of these conditions can be irreversible and stays into adulthood.

VIP Member

What are some of the techniques to soothe tired eyes?

2y ago

I think it is important to first find out the cause to the tired eyes. For example if you think it’s due to excessive screen time, then you should look at reducing your child’s screen time and taking regular breaks ie every 20 minutes of near work (including screen), look at 20 feet away for 20 seconds- we call this the 20-20-20 rule. Replace them with other engaging activities, like reading a book, or play time… Or if it’s due to lack of sleep, then I suggest getting advice from your paediatrician.

How effective are eye drops to soothe tired eyes?

2y ago

OTC lubricating eyedrops are generally to provide temporary relief to dry eyes. Dry eyes are commonly a symptom experienced after prolonged screen time as literature has shown that screen time actually reduces our blinking frequency which then causes dry eyes.