Excessive exposure of children to television, laptops, tablets, and phones among others can lead to myopia (short-sightedness) among children, Dr Alfred Gardemor, Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) has disclosed.
Dr Gardemor, therefore, advised parents to control the screen usage of children to safeguard their eyes from such conditions.
He said instead of keeping children indoors and allowing them to watch cartoons on either the television or their tablets and laptops, parents must encourage them to play outside at least for one to two hours.
Dr Gardemor, who is also a Senior Optometrist at the Nsawam Government Hospital said this at the fifth Ghana News Agency-Tema Regional Office and the Ghana Optometric Association fortnightly public sensitization initiative “GNA-GOA: My Eye! My Vision!
The fortnight initiative is a collaborative public education advocacy campaign to promote the need for people to access eye care and also to draw attention to vision health.
The GNA-GOA: My Eyes! My Vision! The initiative also seeks to challenge the public and policymakers to focus on vision as a health issue, which forms a critical component of mankind’s wellbeing but is often neglected.
Speaking on the topic; “Children’s Vision and Eye Health”, Dr Gardemor indicated that playing outside helps the eyes to relax and prevent myopia as the eyes would not be limited or only focused on the screen for a long time.
Dr Gardemor further explained that “with this, the eyes can relax as the eyes will look far away, unlike being exposed excessively to screen”
Throwing light on the need for children’s eye care to be taken seriously, he said even though children have very sensitive eyes, most people especially in the developing countries tend to think that children were too little to receive eye care.
He said it was extremely important to take eye care in children seriously as regular and periodic screening for them could help in early detection, diagnoses, and treatment instead of waiting till some damages had already been caused and could not be reversed in adulthood.
He said eye conditions in children such as cataracts, glaucoma, amblyopia also known as lazy eye, refractive errors, misalignment, and other congenital eye conditions could be handled early in life.
He, therefore, advised parents to get a first eye screening for their children from age six months, with a second one at age one, three, before pre-school and periodically to avoid future conditions and to detect any anomalies early for correction as some of the condition could not be corrected with time.
Dr Gardemor stressed that parents must know that eye screening was in the best interest of the child as their inability to see well would affect their schooling as most children with learning disorders might have some eye disorders that were yet to be identified.
He said for instance the detection and treatment of amblyopia or lazy eyes by age seven were more effective as after that age a lot of development in the eye might have been already established.
He explained that amblyopia occurred in one eye due to a breakdown in the communication between the eyes and the brain making the brain rely more on the eye with a stronger vision.
This, he said, often led to squinting, shutting off one eye, and tilting of the head by the child in a bit to see.
Mr. Francis Ameyibor, GNA-Tema Regional Manager explained that the two professional bodies have agreed to work together on a public sensitization campaign dubbed: “GNA-GOA: My Eyes! My Vision” to draw attention to vision health.
“We are combining the forces of our professional calling as Optometric Physicians and Communication Experts to reach out to the public with a well-coordinated message.
“We believe such collaboration would serve as a major platform to educate the
public on vision health and serves as a critical stage for the association to reach out to the world,” Mr Ameyibor noted.