Just like teaching them to brush their teeth, parents can help their children take better care of their eyes. That is, if the parents themselves know good vision habits. A new study shows that when parents are taught eyecare basics, they pass them on to their kids. A new parenting course helps them to learn.
Many studies, including this new one in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, reveal the eye condition Myopia is rampant among school-aged children.
Myopia is the technical term for being near-sighted or short-sighted. The condition changes the shape of the eye and causes things in the distance to look blurry.
Covid has made the worldwide trend worse by leading to much more screen viewing and an indoor-based lifestyle. At this rate, the Brian Holden Vision Institute predicts, by 2050 every other person will be nearsighted.
The fact that half of all humans will wear glasses may not seem like a big deal until you consider Myopia makes it easier to develop vision-destroying diseases. In the words of JAMA Ophthalmology, “One in 3 persons with high myopia will eventually become visually impaired or even blind.”
The journal authors point out another fact parents may not know: “Many ophthalmic diseases are caused by unhealthy behavior.”
In other words, eye problems can be PREVENTED.
Thankfully, another study in the same AMA journal shows Myopia rates drop among kids if parents teach them healthy eyecare habits.
In the study, teachers in China sent some of the parents of their students weekly eyecare tips via WeChat. Other parents received no special instruction. The result: “the 2-year cumulative incidence rate of myopia in the intervention group was significantly lower than that in the control group.”
Toward Better Children’s Eye Care
Exactly how do kids maintain good vision? Science is learning more.
“Both electronic screen use and outdoor activity have recently been reported as key factors influencing the onset and progression of Myopia in school-aged children,” say the JAMA journal authors.
Messages from the Chinese teachers boiled down to 3 simple habits (which The Durable Human previously detailed here):
- More activities outdoors in the sunshine
- “Correct eye use behavior”
- Limited electronic screen time
Durable U to the Rescue
Eyecare professionals are very concerned. In March of 2021, the American Optometric Association held an Emergency Children’s Vision Summit to address “the urgent, post-pandemic eye health needs of children and families.”
Based on advice from that summit and an expert panel convened by the child health research group, Children and Screens, Durable U has created a mini-course to teach parents simple eyecare habits to practice and pass on to their kids.
Instead of eye-straining videos, the mini-course features a 13-minute “Listen Lesson” audio recording with the latest thinking and proven tips for kids’ eye health. The mini-course also teaches an easy way to get the whole family aboard the better eyecare train.
The mini-course can save families money, too. According to eyeglasses seller Zenni, the average pair retails for $343. A family of three could spend more than $20,000 on glasses over a 15-year period. Unless – they practice positive eyecare habits.
Eyecare professionals vetted the Durable U mini-course. A world-renowned retinal cancer surgeon wrote in her review: “Great work! This is an important topic that was highlighted in Wall Street Journal and 2 of my colleagues were quoted in it.”
Don’t Wait to Teach Your Children Well
Learning better eyecare isn’t so hard—unless bad habits have already set in. Psychologists who analyzed the Chinese parent education study saw that, even among 6-year-olds, it’s harder to teach good habits if bad ones have developed.
The take-home message: it’s never too soon for parents to teach (and model) positive eye hygiene.
The bottom line: each of us is responsible for keeping our irreplaceable vision as durable as possible and to teach our children to do the same.
As Helen Keller wrote:
Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.
About the author: Jenifer Joy Madden is a certified digital wellness instructor, a Syracuse University adjunct professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism, and founder of DurableHuman.com. She is also the proud parent of three practicing durable humans, one of whom now has a tiny wild human of her own.