Singapore is known as the “Myopia capital of the world” with 65% of primary school students affected by the condition. According to a report by Today Online, Singaporean parents are hesitant to let their kids spend at least two hours a day outdoors, even though it can help prevent myopia.
The problem is only expected to worsen, with about 80% of Singaporean adults projected to develop myopia, and 25% of them with high myopia, according to the same report. The root causes of this epidemic are still unclear, with some attributing it to genetics, while others point to excessive studying.
To better understand this issue, Assembled conducted 30 hours of qualitative fieldwork, consisting of 20 in-depth interviews with parents of myopic children between the ages of 5 and 15 who were diagnosed within the last 1-3 years and have myopia condition of more than 500 degrees.
Here are some of the key insights that emerged from our research
- Parents are aware of the risks of myopia: All the parents we spoke to were aware of the potential long-term effects of myopia on their children’s eye health and quality of life.
- Parents are looking for solutions: Most of the parents expressed a desire to find ways to prevent myopia from worsening or even reversing its effects. They were open to exploring alternative solutions beyond just wearing glasses or contact lenses.
- Outdoor activities are a challenge: While most parents acknowledged the benefits of outdoor activities for their children’s eye health, they cited practical challenges such as safety concerns and a lack of time or suitable outdoor spaces as barriers to regular outdoor activities.
- More education is needed: Some parents were unsure about how to prevent or manage myopia, and they expressed a need for more education and awareness-raising campaigns from healthcare professionals and the government.
Based on these insights, here are some actionable recommendations for addressing the myopia epidemic in Singapore
- Promote regular eye exams: Encourage parents to take their children for regular eye exams and provide education on the importance of early detection and prevention of myopia.
- Increase awareness of outdoor activities: Create more awareness of the benefits of outdoor activities and provide resources to help parents find safe and suitable outdoor spaces for their children to play.
- Encourage healthy habits: Educate parents and children on healthy habits that can prevent myopia, such as limiting screen time and taking frequent breaks from studying or close-up work.
By implementing these recommendations, parents and healthcare professionals can work together to address the myopia epidemic in Singapore and improve children’s eye health.
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