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Myopia cases on the rise post COVID-19, says expert

By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Apr 11, 2023 2:04 am

Advises parents to keep mobile phones away from children

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Kohima: Cases of myopia or short-sightedness, a vision condition in which near objects appear clear but far ones look blurry, are on the rise post COVID-19 due to reduced outdoor activities and increase in screen time, especially among young children, said Dr. Anshida K, MBBS, MD (Ophthalmology), AIIMS, Delhi.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, Dr. Anshida, who is currently a Consultant at Oking Hospital in Kohima, said that allergy, conjunctivitis, seasonal infection and diabetes are prevalent among the patients besides myopia, which is leading to an increase in usage of spectacles among the people, especially children.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with the annual global costs of productivity losses associated with vision impairment estimated at US$ 411 billion, while the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.

Its report on vision said that at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment globally, and in at least 1 billion – or almost half – of these cases, vision impairment could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.

Risks of developing myopia

Speaking about myopia, Dr. Anshida said the risk factor for developing myopia increases if the parents have such vision condition and the risk is higher if both parents are short-sighted.

She said that an increase in usage of spectacles has been observed post COVID pandemic as people spend more time on mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices after being forced to stay indoors.

She pointed out that long screen time in the developing age and the adolescent stage, when the muscles and eye muscles are developing, also leads to higher chance of developing myopia.

Maintaining that there are different disorders affecting the eyes, she said some cases are heredity, which cannot be corrected, while some with diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol issues affect the retina.

She said that many lifestyle-related diseases that affect kidneys also affect the eyes as it affects the vessels of the eyes causing bleeding and reduced vision. She pointed that cases caused by Vitamin A deficiency are less these days.

It was also informed that infection and allergies are prevalent among the people in hilly areas, especially in Kohima due to the windy weather condition, which causes conjunctivitis.

If a person has Vitamin A deficiency, it affects the eyes leading to night blindness, reduced vision in the dark and others, she said while pointed out that such people should take foods such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, beetroots and others that are rich in Vitamin A.

Obesity and vision impairment

The doctor pointed out that obese people have risk of having diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol vascular problems, which can cause problems to the eyes like bleeding, occlusion, and hemorrhage among others.

To reduce the risk, she advised physical activity and healthy lifestyle, which is not only essential for the eyes but also the heart, kidney and the whole body.

Stressing on maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, she suggested working out for about half an hour to 45 minutes a day either brisk walking or cardio exercise, and not necessarily hitting the gym. She also emphasised the importance of maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), a value derived from the mass and height of a person, keeping a proportionate weight.

Summer and eye health

With the onset of summer, the ophthalmologist viewed that there is a risk of viral conjunctivitis which usually comes during summer, then with windy season that cause dry eyes and irritation. For this, advised the parents to keep a watch of their children; seek medical help and not go for over the counter medicines if they see them continuously rubbing their eyes.

 She also stressed on the importance of keeping hand hygiene and not to rub eyes with hands.

Contact lens or spectacles?

The doctor asserted that contact lens has its own advantages and side effects, though some adolescents and teenagers prefer it for cosmetic reasons. She however said it can cause infection, ulcers and infections if not properly done.

‘Personally, I prefer spectacles but then for somebody who is not comfortable with glasses can opt for contact lenses but one has to be careful, check the expiry of the lenses, apply the solutions and keeping it back properly,’ she said while cautioning not to swim or go to any water bodies with it as it can cause infection.

If one gets infection due to contact lenses, it is difficult to treat, she informed.

For good eye health

To avoid developing myopia among the children, the ophthalmologist advised the parents not to let them use mobile phones, saying that it is not for the kids.

If they want watch something, let them do so on the television (TV), she suggested while advising the parents to promote outdoor activities for children during the growing stage.

For adults, she advised avoiding prolonged reading, phone time and computer usage and to adopt 20-20-20 rule or 20 minutes of reading, look something at 20 feet and 20 seconds break, to relax the eyes.

She also stressed on the need for having healthy food or balanced diet for good eye health, as well as controlling systemic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. For those with such diseases, she suggested checking their eyes early for treatment at an early stage.

Citing the prevalence of trauma cases while welding, the ophthalmologist said one should use protective glasses and never treat cases over the counter but go for proper consultation.

Also read: Nagaland reports 2 new COVID-19 cases

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: Apr 11, 2023 2:04:44 am
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