Tamil Nadu

Ophthalmologists suggest more outdoor activity for children

Orthokeratology, a therapy where patients wear hard contact lenses overnight, is said to be effective in treating myopia.

Orthokeratology, a therapy where patients wear hard contact lenses overnight, is said to be effective in treating myopia. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Ophthalmologists are ringing a note of caution for children. A section of them predicts that by 2050 nearly half of the country’s children could be wearing spectacles. At the recently concluded Myopia awareness week (March 23 to 28), ophthalmologists advocated more outdoor play time for children.

T.S. Surendran, head of Paediatric Ophthalmology at Sankara Nethralaya, said there was sharp rise in the number of patients at the hospital between 2019 and now.

Children with myopia complain of blurry vision; difficulty in reading the blackboard in school and placing the book or toys closer to the eye while reading, writing or playing. Some children develop lid infection.

Paediatric ophthalmologists Sumita Agarkar and Aparna Gopalakrishnan in the hospital say in another 30 years, around 45% of children in the country would require corrective glasses. Myopia could lead to sight-threatening conditions such as increased risk of retinal detachment; glaucoma; and macular degeneration later in life requiring expensive surgical and medical interventions.

Though family history of myopia is an important factor, excessive near work, exposure to light, lack of physical activity and quality of sleep play an important role. “The onset can be delayed with regular exposure to sunlight and engaging your child in regular outdoor activities,” said Dr. Aparna.

“Research has shown that low-dose atropine has been effective in slowing down myopia progression without any adverse events”T.S. Surendran Sankara Nethralaya

They recommend at least two hours of outdoor activities daily for children at risk of developing myopia.

Increased screen time — mobile phone and online classes during the pandemic — had led to early onset of myopia and rapid progression in children wearing spectacles, Dr. Agarkar said.

“Myopic progression can be retarded by using low-dose atropine drops. Research has shown that low-dose atropine has been effective in slowing down myopia progression without any adverse events,” Dr. Surendran said.

Also, patients are offered orthokeratology, a therapy where they wear hard contact lenses overnight. The lenses are specially designed to control myopia effectively and eliminates the need to wear spectacles during the day in mild to moderate cases, he said and added that it required a trained optometrist for good fitting and meticulous care of hygiene. About 50% of the patients who underwent therapy had good control after they crossed the age of 19.

“Spectacles with incorporated defocus segments (DIMS) have been found effective in slowing down myopia progression. They are widely available and have a promising future,” he added.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 11:30:05 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ophthalmologists-suggest-more-outdoor-activity-for-children/article65473231.ece