Did you know that Singapore has one of the highest rates of childhood myopia among seven to nine-year-olds in the world (source)? At age five, almost a fifth of children here are wearing glasses. By the time they reach Primary 6, almost 65 per cent of them are bespectacled. And when they reach their teens, up to 92 per cent of them are myopic.
Myopia is a rapidly common condition, progressing most amongst children between six and 12 years of age. Researchers estimate that by 2050, 4.8 billion people – or almost half of Earth’s population – will have myopia (source).
The prevalence of myopia in children is attributed to the frequency of near-work activities that our young ones do on various devices, a study by the Singapore Eye Research Institute found.
It could also be an inherited condition especially if both you and your spouse are near-sighted too. However, if your child does not receive early myopia management, it could easily lead to higher myopia when they grow up. In addition, they will be more vulnerable to eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma later in life.
That’s why it makes sense to help your child with myopia management, or treatment to slow down myopia, as early as possible.
Myopia management methods in Singapore
When your child complains of blurry vision, your first instinct is probably to bring them to the optometrist for an eye check, following which would be a prescription for spectacles. Your eye care practitioner may also offer your child other options for myopia control.
In choosing one for your child, think about their age and their ability to handle the responsibilities that come with it. Ideally, it should as minimally invasive as possible, and easy to include in your child’s daily lifestyle and routine. These are the most common myopia control methods in Singapore:
Single-vision (SV) spectacle lenses are the most common form of myopia correction, and probably the first to come to mind when you need help to see better.
Pros Non-invasive, takes a shorter time to get used to, easily replaced.
Cons Does not manage myopia, but only corrects it.
Medicine (like in the form of eyedrops) can be dropped into the eye to slow down the progression of myopia. This is usually done during bedtime, hence there is no disruption to the child’s daily routine.
Pros High-dose eye-drops are highly effective. Studies show reduction of myopia progression between 27% and 66%, depending on dosage, among nearsighted children.1
Cons Invasive to the body as it is a pharmaceutical drug absorbed by our body system. Side effects such as glare and blurry vision are common (source). Dry eyes and eye allergies may happen as well. Consequently, myopia progression may still occur, and the child may need to switch to a higher dose.
There are rigid gas-permeable contact lenses that children can wear to slow down the progression of myopia. One such type of contact lenses help control myopia progression by gently ‘flattening’ the front surface of the eyes (corneas) during the night when the child wears the lenses to sleep.
Pros Treats a wide range of myopia and astigmatism. Takes a short time to work.
Cons Hard to get children to put lenses into their eyes. Also, the lenses might be uncomfortable in the beginning. Furthermore, you need to ensure a high level of cleanliness when using in order to prevent contamination and infections.
MiYOSMART lenses look and feel just like spectacle lenses, but they work very differently. Developed by Hoya Vision Care in collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University, these lenses use the award-winning D.I.M.S. (Defocus Incorporated Multiple Segments) technology to control myopia progression.
A trial done on 183 Chinese children aged eight to 13 years old saw their myopia progression reduced by an average of 60 per cent after two years.
The children who wore spectacles with MiYOSMART lenses saw their myopia increase by only about 30 degrees over two years — 100 degrees less than for children wearing single vision lenses. In other words, while myopia progression did not stop completely, it was significantly reduced. In conclusion, children wearing these lenses had much less progression in their myopia as compared to those wearing single vision lenses.
• Effective – Slows down myopia progression by an average of 60 per cent.
• Safe – Non-invasive. Highly suitable for children due to its impact resistant, thin and light material. Comes with UV protection which is crucial especially in sunny Singapore.
• Easy – Easy to maintain with its easy to wipe water-repellent and anti-reflective coating. Easy to adapt as it is like normal spectacle lenses.
Cons Cost. At $530 (recommended retail price) per pair, MiYOSMART lenses do not come cheap. But think ahead: you could end up spending a lot more if your child’s myopia progresses rapidly.
Other ways to manage childhood myopia
On top of the interventions listed above, myopia can be controlled and managed with the right lifestyle habits. These include:
- Spending time outdoors in sunlight: two to three hours of outdoor play can help reduce myopia in children.
- Getting regular eye care: bring your child for an eye check up at least once a year.
- Taking note of ergonomics: check your child’s sitting posture when doing work, ensure that there is adequate light, and remind them to keep a 30cm distance from their work or their screen.
- Reducing screen time and near-work activities: remind your child to take breaks (10 minutes for every 30 minutes screen-time) and look away from their devices.
Choosing the right myopia management method that works best for your child is essential if you want to control the progression of their myopia. As parents, we also want to ensure that the method used is non-invasive, and easy to adapt to. Coupled with vision-friendly lifestyle behaviours, the right one can slow down the progression of your child’s myopia without requiring uncomfortable routine changes, and help your child achieve better vision for life.
Buy a pair of Hoya MiYOSMART lenses for your child and get a backup pair of single vision lenses free (terms and conditions apply) under the MiYOSMART Assurance Programme. Visit the Hoya Website or your nearest eyecare practitioner to find out more about MiYOSMART!
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1.Jason C. Yam, Yuning Jiang, Shu Min Tang, Antony K.P. Law, Joyce J. Chan, Emily Wong, Simon T. Ko, Alvin L. Young, and others. Low-Concentration Atropine for Myopia Progression (LAMP) Study: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial of 0.05%, 0.025%, and 0.01% Atropine Eye Drops in Myopia Control. Ophthalmology, Vol. 126, Issue 1, p113–124
Header and featured images: Hoya MiYOSMART