How to prevent your child from needing glasses
Posted on 29 September 2017
Despite our warm and sunny climate, there are signs of an ever-increasing indoor culture. Digital entertainment means children in particular are prone to not spending enough time outdoors. And despite the more obvious harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle, too much “couch time” can also have a detrimental effect on eyesight.
‘There is a theory that suggests the sheer amount of “near work” we are required to do these days causes or contributes to the development of near-sightedness in some people,’ says Johannes van der Meer, a Western Cape-based optometrist. ‘Modern day lifestyles are often confined within four walls, where reading and the use of digital devices tend to predominate.’
Despite the digital era that many children are exposed to, a few small lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in preventing short-sightedness and the need for spectacles.
‘A variation in tasks is the most important preventative factor,’ says Johannes. ‘Regular breaks from digital devices is a must. The ability to shift your focus from the computer screen to a distant object relaxes the eye muscles. Also, starting with a ball sport from an early age develops eye movement and focusing ability.’
There is no substitute for time outdoors however. Studies suggest a positive link between children who spend a lot of time outdoors and good eyesight. But as Johannes explains, too much of a good thing is not always the answer.
‘Sunlight definitely stimulates the production of Vitamin D as well as dopamine,’ he says. ‘While too much ultraviolet (UV) exposure is indeed harmful to the skin, the eyes are also affected. Always make sure your children use sunscreen when UV rays are at their peak (10am – 2pm). Encourage them to wear sunglasses too.’