Hyderabad, 20th, November 2023: L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) successfully concluded its Children’s Eye Care Week with an awareness walk on November 19, 2023, focusing on refractive errors in children. The week-long celebration included programs like a children’s painting competition, pottery workshop, magic show, awareness talk, and free eye examinations – all aimed to raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of refractive errors in children.
Refractive errors, such as myopia (nearsightedness), hypermetropia (farsightedness), and astigmatism, can affect children due to natural differences in eyeball sizes, leading to difficulties in correctly processing images. These errors often result in symptoms like headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue during reading and may even lead to the development of squint as children adapt to visual challenges.
Uncorrected refractive errors are a significant global concern and a leading cause of blindness. In India, 20% of visually impaired individuals suffer from unaddressed refractive errors. The prevalence of myopia, in particular, is rising, posing a potential public health crisis. Without intervention, projections suggest that nearly half of the world’s population may be affected by myopia by 2050.
Dr Manju Bhate, Senior Pediatric Ophthalmologist at LVPEI Hyderabad, emphasized the importance of recognizing early signs of refractive errors, urging immediate consultation with an eye specialist. She addressed the gathering and informed the standard early symptoms if their child has a refractive error, such as reading or watching television at a close distance, difficulty seeing the blackboard clearly at school, frequent headaches, eyestrain, and squeezing or squinting of the eyes. “Early diagnosis and treatment of refractive errors are crucial, with eye examinations recommended at ages one, three, and five, so that we can pick up the refractive error at the right time and they enjoy good vision rest of the life with a bright future,” she added.
Simple solutions like glasses or contact lenses can effectively address refractive errors. Regular follow-ups are essential to monitor changes in prescription, treat lazy eye, and manage progressive refractive errors. LVPEI advocates preventive measures to reduce the risk of refractive errors and its progression in children:
Manage Screen Time: Balance screen use and physical activities, following age-appropriate recommendations.
Encourage Outdoor Time: Children spending at least 60 minutes outdoors daily reduce their risk of myopia.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes of near work, focusing on an object 20 feet away.
Optimal Reading Habits: Maintain a 15-inch distance and a 60-degree angle while reading in well-lit environments.
Dr Rohan Nalawade, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, LVPEI, highlighted the potential consequences of undiagnosed and untreated refractive errors, including delayed milestones, negative impacts on academic performance, participation in activities, and social behaviour. He said, Children with myopia face a higher risk of developing serious eye diseases, emphasizing the collective responsibility of families, teachers, healthcare professionals, and the government to ensure children’s well-being.
Today’s walk is with the theme of refractive error, there are various refractive errors. It is important that we diagnose them as early as possible, it is estimated that about 20% of the patients are undiagnosed, and many of these patients can be diagnosed easily and treated just by spectacle correction. This walk is all about diagnosing and spreading the awareness about refractive error in our population.
Dr Prashant Garg, Executive Chair of LVPEI; said, children having good vision is important, you should avoid near vision and too much of screen time, you should all go out and play in bright sun light for atleast two hours.