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Children Who Stay Indoors Risk Myopia, Ophthalmologists Warn

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NAN – Ophthalmologists on Friday, May 22, 2015 said children who spent more time staying indoors were more likely to develop myopia than their peers who played outdoors.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that myopia was very common and could occur in children between the ages of four and 12 years.

They said, however, that the disorder could get better if detected early as they got into their teen ages and adulthood.

A Consultant Ophthalmologist at a Lagos-based private hospital, Spectrum, Dr Halima Alimi, said the prevalence of myopia in children and young adults was on the increase. Alimi, however, said that there were no data to show the percentage of these categories of people in the society.

“We know that the disorder is very common and is becoming a public health problem as many children and young adults presented it at the hospitals,’’ she said.

She noted that the causes of the disorder which is on the increase could be as a result of staying too close to objects that were too bright for the eyes, such as television (TV) and computer.

The consultant said that staying indoors for long hours could also be a cause, adding that the light outdoors were important for good eyesight.

She urged parents to monitor how much time their children spent on watching TV and using the computer, adding that such children should be encouraged to be active.

“Besides causing harm to the eyes, staying long hours on these objects can cause other health hazards, including obesity and diabetes.

“Children should be encouraged to read books and play,’’ she said.

Also, another Ophthalmologist at another private hospital, Dortem Eye Centre, Dr Eguono Sam-Mba, said the causes of myopia in children were usually genetic and managing it, therefore, could be difficult.

Sam-Mba said that it usually worsened throughout childhood and could only be corrected by the use of eye glasses.

She said that a child who had myopia found it difficult to read at about one meter, that is, about three feet from an object.

“A normal vision should be about six meters away from an object, but when you see a child who moves too close to an object, such as the blackboard in school or TV, such child has myopia.

“Other signs are when a child complains of constant headache, fatigue or feeling heaviness in the eyes, such a child should be quickly attended to,’’ she said.

The consultant said that children at risk of myopia were mostly from family history and should have regular check-up, at least every two years.

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