School’s Out

The Oban Times - - News - with John Wal­lace

School’s out for sum­mer and the rain has started! What can we do to keep our young­sters oc­cu­pied and happy? Many of them will hap­pily play out­doors de­spite the weather. Many more will be con­tent to sit in front of the com­puter or smart phone play­ing games or talk­ing to their friends. For par­ents that can be an easy and peace­ful op­tion. By opt­ing for the easy op­tion we may be caus­ing harm to our young­sters. A large body of re­search has shown con­clu­sively spend­ing sev­eral hours per day star­ing at a com­puter screen can cause a sig­nif­i­cant change in the size of the hu­man eye. This is par­tic­u­larly the case in young­sters whose eyes are still grow­ing. If our eyes in­crease in size they start to be­come my­opic … that’s short sighted to you and me. If a child be­comes my­opic they will strug­gle to see clearly in the dis­tance. That causes prob­lems with ed­u­ca­tion if they can’t see the white­board in school. It also makes play­ing sport more dif­fi­cult. I can speak from bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence of that. I am mod­er­ately my­opic and could never par­tic­i­pate in school foot­ball or rugby as I could not see the ball clearly. Other re­search has found chil­dren who spend most of their time out­doors are much less likely to be­come my­opic. Why should we worry about my­opia? My­opia has been strongly linked to po­ten­tially blind­ing eye dis­ease in old age. This can take the form of reti­nal de­tach­ments, glau­coma, cataract and my­opic mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. Lev­els of my­opia are rapidly in­creas­ing. Cur­rently about 40% of young­sters are my­opic. My­opia is pre­ventable and con­trol­lable. If you are told it is nor­mal for your child’s eyesight to get worse don’t sim­ply ac­cept that. Ask to be re­ferred to an op­tometrist who spe­cialises in my­opia pre­ven­tion.

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