Myopia, short-sightedness, four eyes are words that are used synonymously for someone who wears spectacles to see long distant objects. Myopia is exceedingly common in children and in most cases, it only gets worse as we grow older.

In Singapore, around 30 percent of Primary One students have problems with their vision – this is strikingly more than other countries. Take Hong Kong, for example, where the percentage is only 12 percent.

Although not life-threatening, myopia can affect a child and his/her family in other ways. Frequent spectacle changes, check-ups and care can be costly. Sometimes, myopia can cause headaches and deteriorating vision.

Can Myopia Be Prevented?

Yes and no.

There’s good evidence that you can prevent short-sightedness by practicing healthy eye-care habits. This includes not reading or working in dim lights, not sitting too close to the television or computer screen and not lying down to read. A healthy diet that is rich in vitamins (particularly vitamin A) can also help to improve vision.

On the other hands, most types of short-sightedness are inherited. This means that if the parents are both short-sighted, there’s a good chance their offspring will be as well.

Whether your myopia is inherited or acquired by unhealthy habits, it is possible to prevent it from getting worse!

How Do I Know If I Have Myopia?

If you or your child has defective long-distance vision, some important clues to look out for are:

· Headaches and pain around the region of the eye

· Sitting too close to the television, school white boards etc.

· Narrowing the eyes when looking at distant objects

· Difficulty in reading whiteboards in a classroom

How is Myopia Treated?

If you suspect that you or your child might be short-sighted, you should get a formal eye check-up done immediately. This is a simple test that determines the presence and degree of myopia. At the end of this exam, you will be given the appropriate sizes for spectacles you should wear.

Spectacles are the traditional treatment for people with myopia, but they can become cumbersome. You can also opt for other modern advancements such as contact lens and laser surgery after discussing with your eye specialist.