Many kids these days learn how to scroll and tap touch screen devices earlier than getting a complete sentence out. And while it is fascinating to see a two-year-old tinkering with a gadget, this practice has led to a spike in myopia (or nearsightedness) cases among children.
“There is now an epidemic of myopia in Asia,” David Hornfield, a doctor of optometry, revealed in an interview with Manila Standard.
According to this articulate eye specialist, more children, and at younger age, too, are becoming myopic or nearsighted due to two Gs: genetics and gadgets.
“Probably [the cause] is a little bit genetic; some parents are nearsighted already, and the genetic DNA was passed on. But mostly due to the LEDs, the cellphones, the laptops, the iPads, and everything they do nowadays; it is with a screen that gives off high energy visible radiation,” said Hornfield.
If one or both parents are nearsighted, it is highly likely that their children will be nearsighted or have a tendency to develop the condition, according to the American Optometric Association.
But the actual development of myopia may be affected by how a person uses their eyes. And, yes, prolonged exposure to blue light-emitting screens such as those that Hornfield mentioned, as well as near-vision work—which usually is the case with gadgets—may result in nearsightedness.
What is nearsightedness
AOA defined myopia or nearsightedness is a visual condition in which an individual can see close objects clearly while objects farther away appear blurry. It occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too curved, hence the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly.
A research by Michael Cohen Group found that children as young as two years know how to use touch screen devices.
Hornfield said kids had better vision before the ubiquity of this technology. “But what’s happening is we need these gadgets in our life now. And they’re changing our eyes. And because children are becoming this way, their children will probably become this way because the DNA will be passed on.”
Not only children have poor eyesight. The eye doctor said, “Vision of people today, across all generations, is worse than before.”
Now let's close our eyes and let that sink in.
What can be done
You see—or maybe, you hardly see—eye checkup is becoming more important due to this trend. “I think children should be examined as young as 4 or 5 years old,” posited Hornfield.
And as a person ages, regular eye examination must still be done regularly, especially since the eye is a living tissue.
“It can change shape (expand or contract) for no reason at all. You might change but another person might not at all. Everybody is totally different. You cannot judge it on what they’re doing, what they’re eating. Both can be doing near-work all the time and one changes and one doesn’t,” explained Hornfield.
Since young patients can be quite challenging to examine, much less keep seated for the entire procedure, Hornfield and two other optometrists from the United Kingdom came to the newly opened Vision Express Kids at Greenbelt 5 to teach eye doctors how to handle children better.
“[Performing eye checkups on children] is very different,” he said, in such a way that “it’s hard to keep a child seated, so you get whatever you can fast. And you make games and be silly with them as much as possible. So they will look at you and look through the machine.”
See you at Vision Express
Hornfield, chief of professional services and clinical instruction at Vision Express, ensured that the eye doctors at the company’s first store targeted to 17 years old and below are ready to accept their young clients and perform the company’s seven-step eye examination procedure at the store for free.
“We want to do more tests that are relevant instead of just doing refraction, which is really just putting a patient in front of lenses. We want to look in the eyes, we want to check for lazy eyes, we want to check if the patient sees with both eyes together properly, we want to look in they eye for diseases, we want to see a patient who maybe has external eye infection in their lids or under their lids.”
Vision Express Kids, operated by Branded Lifestyle, Inc., aims to cater to the increasing demand for eye care services and products for children and teens.
“We want to provide Filipinos with a higher eye care service, because in the Philippines eye examination only takes five minutes, and it shouldn’t be like that, it should be intensive that you know the background of your eyes,” Neelam Gopwani, assistant vice president for marketing and business development at BLI, told Manila Standard.
“We concentrated on eye care first then we brought in the products,” she added.
While primarily catered to kids (Gopwani said “60 percent of the store is dedicated to kids”), Vision Express Kids have products for adults, too.
The branch offers the largest Ray-Ban Junior selection, including Aviator Junior, Blaze Aviator Junior, Wayfarer Junior, Wayfarer Round Junior, Round Junior, Blaze Round Double Junior, Clubmaster Junior, The General Junior, and Chris Junior.
It also offers Guess Kids eyewear line: the Colorpop collection features thick-rimmed rectangular frames in dual colors, and the Eyecandy line features thin, lightweight models in various wide-framed shapes.
Vision Express Kids also carries its in-house brand Tony Morgan, in styles and sizes for children 17 and below.
Vision Express Kids is on the 3rd floor of Greenbelt 5 in Makati City.
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