Thursday, 16 August 2012

I have eyes only for You.... Myopia / Astigmatism

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If you chance upon a group of children in Singapore, you will observe one or two things.  One, they are multi-racial.   Two,  majority of them wear eyeglasses. 

Singaporean children have the World's most prevalent cases of Myopia or Nearsightedness.  The  official number is  34% of children ages 7-9 years.

 Compared with other children of the world (data from the National Eye Center) :

Age Wearing Glasses
Singapore 7 to 9 34%
Taiwan 7 to 9 19%
Hong Kong 7 to 8 12%
USA 6 to 14 7.5%
Nepal 5 to 15 Less than 3%

 Apparently,  the main reason is the focus of early learning in Asian Cultures.   Asian children are introduced to computers and reading activities much earlier  age than their western counterparts.  They call this "near work" activities, putting strain on young children's eyes. 

I also see a lot of tutorial centers here.  Children even as young as 3years old, are enrolled in reading enrichment classes using very academic methods. 

I would understand if it's a play group that teaches them sharing, naptime, singing and dancing.  But  enrichment classes, which means, it's on top of their regular play group!  (This topic actually,  merits another blog :)

Going back to Myopia ~ another factor could be, the less focus on outdoor activities.  Even though,  they have the best facilities, public swimming pools, tennis courts, track & field, in every town and condominiums.   The parents would rather bring their kids to the libraries and book stores :)  I guess, this is just a nation of nerds and geeks :)

This is also a very tech-savvy country.   Hans' playmates when they come to the house, would request for my WiFi password for their iphones and ipads, and they're only 8-10years olds!

It's a standard procedure for the National Eye Center to conduct regular eye checks on schoolchildren.  When Ivan  enrolled in pre-school, they discovered, he is apparently one of the statistics! :(  

He was referred to the National Myopia Prevention Center for children.   Funny, because as soon as we got there,  my friend's daughter Jade, was also there and apparently is also referred.  I was telling my friend,  "aren't they just being paranoid?" If we were in the Philippines, we probably wouldn't discover this, unless they have lazy eyes, or  they're complaining of headaches, dizziness or looking at their books closely.  The doctors assured me, that early detection is better! "Would you rather we correct it now or let the child grow handicapped?"

So, off we went with a prescription for astigmatism :))  There's plenty of optical shops here.  Believe me,  at least 3 in every MRT station.  We picked a nice non-breakable, non-scratchable, white framed, eyeglasses. I chose white.  (I noticed that the teenagers here, are sporting white rimmed glasses).  Apprently, they have eyeglass fads and trends, too.

After a few weeks, I'm feeling a little dizzy and was having eyestrain, too.  Is myopia contagious?  Not really,  it's just the age :)   Slowly, I reach for the inevitable ....  my reading glasses.
'til next adventure!




  1. a pity for not using those facilities like swimming pool, tennis courts because here you will have to pay extra for that & its expensive. Here sport, music & library are important too but they encourage the parents to let the children enjoy their childhood so kindergarten here is more on playing & a bit of learning. They start to learn how to read in grade 1 so at age of 6-7.

  2. when i was 6, i also need to wear eyeglasses. i'm farsighted! for a year i had the luxury to look like a nerd. =) i'm still on denial, but, i'm having a hard time now reading everything that's near to me. I promise to myself to get a reading glass. sure i won't look so nerd now. people will refer as "old age", hahaha.