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Lack of outdoor activities leading to myopic shift among children

Thursday, 29 July 2021 (19:41 IST)
:-Rohit Mitra
New Delhi: The decreased outdoor activities among children due to mounting academic pressure over the years and the outbreak of Corona pandemic have taken a serious toll on the eyes of younger people.
Dr Pankaj Ranjan, a senior eye surgeon at New Delhi's Safdarjung hospital, says that increased use of electronic devices coupled with a decrease in outdoor activities gives rise to the possibility of a myopic shift in the eyes.
"Our evolutionary development has been such that eyes are meant to see objects situated a distance from us. With the increased use of electronic devices, especially during the pandemic, we are concentrating more on objects that are located close to us for long durations, which sends a signal to the brain that viewing nearby objects is the priority, hence a myopic shift takes place. This is the reason why we see a rise in the incidences of myopia among children and young adults in our OPD."
He advises that outdoor activities for children are crucial for eye health. "Research has conclusively proven that rise in indoor activities have increased myopic progressions among children, hence outdoor activities must be insured among children even during the pandemic. One to two hours is the minimum time frame for outdoor activities among children, this would help in physiological development of their eyes."
Dr Ranjan says that for ensuring better eye health among students, the duration of online classes should shorter, and not very long. "My suggestion to the teachers would be that online classes should not be of long duration, and if possible a short break after every 20 minutes of teaching should be taken. Also the parents must ensure that during these breaks the children do not go on viewing the electronic devices like phones, so that their eyes get respite during these breaks."
He adds that it is better to use bigger devices for online teaching. "As far as possible and economically feasible, parents should try to ensure that online classes should take place on bigger devices, and Smart TV is best option for online classes. Laptops and desktops too are better options compared to attending classes on the phone. Also the brightness and contrast of the device must be kept at a moderate level, if it is too bright or too dim it would cause stress to the eyes. The font size of the text should be big so that it is comfortable for the eyes and the room where one is working should be well lit."
Dr Ranjan points out some red flags that may indicate eye problems among children. "If children need to squeeze their eyes in order to view things or they have watery eyes, it is a pointer to refractive errors in the eyes. In such a scenario, an eye specialist should be consulted."
He suggests some easy exercises that one can do in order to maintain eye health. "Keep the palms of your hands on the eyes every once in a while, this relaxes the eye muscles. Turning the eyeballs in the clockwise and anticlockwise direction is also helpful. Another exercise is, while sitting next to the window first watch objects that are near then focus on objects that are far away. Pen or pencil push up exercises where one focuses on the tip are very useful for the eye muscles," he said.(UNI)

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