25% of schoolchildren in city are short- sighted, finds study
EYE SCREENING Doctors say spending more time indoors with laptops, cell phones and video games could be the cause
SANPADA: An eye- screening initiative called Nanhe Nayan un d e r t a ke n by Adva nc e d Eye Hospital and Institute, Sanpada, screened around 25,000 children across Navi Mumbai schools over the past year.
The results show a steep rise in the number of children with less than optimum vision. Around 25% of the 25,000 children screened were diagnosed to have impaired vision (<6/12) compared to the normal prevalence rates of 5- 8% over the past decade. The major reason for impaired vision in this population was uncorrected refractive errors, more commonly known as myopia.
Myopia, also called shortsightedness, is rapidly increasing across the world and Navi Mumbai is no e xc ep t i o n . According to the new projections recently released from the Brien Holden Vi si o n Institute in Australia, nearly half of world population will be myopic in the next 35 years.
Dr Vandana Jain, director of AEHI and cornea, cataract and lasik surgeon, said, “The advancement in the world of electronics with the younger generation spending more time indoors with laptops, mobile phones and video games could be cited as a probable cause for this steep rise over the past decade.”
“Incessant use of near vision for hours contributes in some way to the rising incidence of myopia. Spending 14 hours or more time outdoors a week where eye muscles are relaxed and can focus on distant objects can reduce myopia by up to one-third, according to findings from the International Society f or Eye Research. We really need to encourage children to spend more time outdoors and less time with gadgets,” Jain said.
Dr Prachi Agashe, paediatric ophthalmologist, said, “Uncorrected refractive errors such as myopia can have a negative impact on the child’s life and have also been cited as important causes for headaches, poor scholastic perform- ance and reduced self- esteem. Also, if these errors are not corrected at the right age, it leads to permanent impairment of vision, which cannot be rectified in adulthood, thereby also limiting career options.”
One of the very important things is to drive home the message that every child should get an eye check- up done periodically.
This allows timely detection of the problem and implementation of proper corrective measures.
Jain said, “The increasing incidence of myopia is going to put a lot of eye care and financial burden on the government and the private sector.”
“As of now in Navi Mumbai, we are getting lot of young adults with high myopia coming for lasik vision correction surgery to get the glasses removed. While 80% of these are fit for lasik, others have to wear glasses or contact lenses for the rest of their life,” he added.