Singapore tops many world rankings – we’re kiasu like that, right? But did you know that Singapore is also #1 in the world for the prevalence of childhood myopia in seven- to nine-year-olds? Definitely not an achievement to be proud of! In fact, one in two children here develop myopia by 12 years of age, with many affected even before primary one. By the time they’re teenagers, 75 per cent are short-sighted and have to wear glasses. And a major reason behind this phenomenon? An increasing dependency on screen time.
Digital Eye Strain and Its Causes
“The high childhood myopia rate in Singapore is largely attributed to frequent near-work activities done with handheld gaming devices, personal computers, mobile phones and iPads,” says Associate Professor Lee Shu Yen, senior consultant and deputy head of the surgical retina department at the Singapore National Eye Centre.
But these days, as parents know, depriving kids of digital devices is not the answer. Digital learning is an inevitable trend. While we may be able to limit screen time for preschoolers, it becomes more difficult as they progress through school. Unfortunately, digital learning often comes hand-in-hand with digital eye fatigue and strained eye muscles.
“Children’s eyes let in more light than adults’ eyes do,” says Dr Mashahiko Ayaki, Associate Professor at the Keio University School of Medicine in Japan. “Children’s eyes are more sensitive and if they spend as much time on the devices as adults, the impact will be more severe.”
Indeed, students are spending more time on tablets and laptops, often with a short viewing distance and in dim light. The screens also emit harmful blue light that contributes to eye strain and poor sleep quality.
Furthermore, while such devices are great portability-wise, their smaller displays also make them unsuitable for hours of research, coding and content creation. This puts extra strain on the eyes, as well as the neck and spine, which can lead to other issues in growing children.
The Importance of Eye Care
It’s not just about the inconvenience of wearing glasses or even contact lenses either. Left uncorrected, myopia can lead to complications such as retinal damage, cataract and glaucoma. Hence the importance of eye care, especially for kids, cannot be more overstated. Children who go on to develop high myopia are at risk for permanent loss of vision.
Here are five tips on how to help our kids avoid excessive digital eye strain while still growing up tech-savvy:
1. Remind them to take frequent breaks
The American Optometric Association recommends the 20/20/20 rule. Simply focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds once every 20 minutes. Children should also get up and get moving for at least 10 minutes every hour.
2. Get regular eye checks
Little ones up to three years should get their eyes screened during regular visits to the paediatrician. Older kids and teens should get their eyes thoroughly checked annually.
3. Enforce a healthy viewing distance
Ensure that kids hold tablets and other mobile devices at least 40 cm away from their eyes. Computer monitors should be at a distance of at least 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the display.
4. Make sure the lighting is adequate
Good lighting is crucial to your child’s vision. Make sure that the general lighting in the room is adequate for the tasks they are working on. The brightness of screens should match that of the study environment.
5. Connect small devices to an eye care monitor
The smaller screen sizes of tablets and laptops contribute towards poor eye health and bone development in children. Get around this by connecting the devices to a bigger computer monitor. Even better, choose an eye care monitor for this purpose.
Eye care monitors are digital displays that are designed specifically to prevent digital eye strain. While we can’t keep our children away from digital devices entirely, we can at least provide them with a smarter choice.
Choose an Eye Care Monitor – Because You Care
For instance, the BenQ Eye-Care Monitor GW2480T. It’s specifically designed to solve digital eye strain problems and is ideal for children and students. Kids will find that they can concentrate better on their studies, resulting in more efficient learning. This is the latest product from digital lifestyle specialist BenQ, the first brand to focus on the development of eye-care technology. Its latest generation of monitors provides an even more comprehensive range of features to support your child’s vision.
Automatic Brightness Settings
Its unique Brightness Intelligence Technology (B.I. Tech) can automatically adjust the monitor’s brightness according to ambient light. The home entertainment (E-Series) monitors are also equipped with this technology. Now students can focus on research and coding, rather than spending time on complicated monitor settings.
Growing with Your Child
The ergonomic design lets you customise for height, tilt, pivot and swivel, for viewing at the optimal angle. This means the monitor can be adjusted as your child grows, helping to prevent neck, shoulder and back strain.
Avoid Bedtime Struggles
Low Blue Light Technology is designed to filter out harmful blue light. This effectively minimises eye strain and causes less disruption to our body’s natural circadian rhythm. Students who get a good night’s rest also concentrate better at school the next day.
Flicker No More
Flicker-Free Technology eliminates the harmful flicker present in traditional LCD screens. This too prevents eye fatigue and potential vision damage.
Compensating for ‘Colour Blindness’
Research shows that congenital colour vision deficiency affects 8% of males and 0.5% of females. The BenQ Eye-Care Monitor GW2480T comes to the rescue with a Colour Weakness Mode. Now this group of students can experience the joy of colour just like everyone else!
Growing up in the digital age doesn’t have to mean that your child will have to struggle with myopia. Simply practise healthy eye care habits to help ward off digital eye strain. Of course, concerns such as cyberbullying are still valid, but hey, at least that’s one less thing to worry about!
Discover the BenQ Eye-Care Monitor GW2480T for yourself with live demos at COURTS Megastore (50 Tampines North Drive 2) and COMEX 2019 @ Suntec Convention Centre, 5-8 Sept 2019 (Level 3 Booth #3501).
Apart from the newest model, BenQ also offers the GW2480 if you don’t need the Colour Weakness Mode and height adjustment, as well as the GW2780 for those who prefer a larger screen size at 27”. See the full range of BenQ Eye-Care Monitors for home and office via the BenQ official e-store.
Don’t wait till it’s too late to protect your child’s eyesight. The damage is irreversible! Click HERE for the latest promotions and special offerings from BenQ.
Keeping a lookout for your eye health with BenQ