LVPEI shines spotlight on refractive errors in children

As part of the Children's Eye Care Week (13-19 November), L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is organizing various activities to raise awareness about refractive errors in children

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New Delhi: As part of the Children’s Eye Care Week (13-19 November), L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), through its dedicated Children’s Eye Care Centres across its network, organizes various activities to raise awareness about refractive errors in children.

It has invited the stakeholders to participate in the Children’s Eye Care Walk on Sunday, 19th November 2023, at 7:00 am, starting from its Kallam Anji Reddy Campus, Hyderabad.

Uncorrected refractive error is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide; 20% of India’s total visually impaired population suffers from uncorrected refractive errors.
Recent data underscores the global significance of uncorrected refractive errors, emerging as a leading cause of blindness. In India, this concern is starkly evident, with 20% of visually impaired individuals grappling with unaddressed refractive errors—an alarming statistic that demands urgent attention. Particularly, the escalating prevalence of Myopia paints a dire picture. Without proactive measures, projections indicate that nearly half of the world’s population (5 billion) will be affected by 2050. The gravity of the situation is further highlighted in urban India, where an anticipated 48% of children may battle Myopia by 2050, transcending mere vision concerns to crystallize as a looming public health crisis.
Dr Rohan Nalawade, Pediatric Ophthalmologist at LVPEI Hyderabad, emphasizes the significance of recognizing tell-tale symptoms of refractive errors, urging immediate consultation with an eye specialist upon their observation. “These crucial indicators include reading or watching television at a close distance, experiencing difficulty in seeing the blackboard clearly at school, frequent headaches and eyestrain, and squeezing or squinting of the eyes. Ignoring these signs may compromise visual health, making early intervention imperative for optimal eye care.”
Diagnosis and Treatment of Refractive Errors
Eye examinations at one, three, and five years are paramount to diagnosing and treating refractive errors early. Thankfully, refractive errors are treatable with simple solutions like glasses or contact lenses. Regular follow-ups to check for changes in glass prescription, treatment of lazy eye and treatment of progressive refractive errors are crucial to ensuring optimal vision.
The following preventive measures can help in preventing refractive errors in our children:
Manage Screen Time: We encourage you to balance screen use and physical activities. A safe amount of screen time varies by age. Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children below two years should not be exposed to any screen. Further, exposure should be limited to one hour of supervised screen time per day for children between two and under five years of age and less than two hours per day for children 6-10.
Encourage Outdoor Time: Children spending at least 60 minutes outdoors daily reduce their risk of Myopia by over 14%. Therefore, ophthalmologists promote outdoor play for overall well-being.
Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: Break every 20 minutes of near work with a 20-second break, focusing on an object 20 feet away. It helps relieve eye strain and discomfort.
Optimal Reading Habits: Maintain a 15-inch distance and a 60-degree angle while reading. Ensure well-lit environments to prevent eye strain.
“Undiagnosed and untreated refractive errors can lead to delayed milestones in children and negatively impact their academic performance, participation in co-curricular activities and social behaviour. Children with Myopia are at a higher risk of developing retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract and other eye diseases. Some of these eye disorders can result in irreversible vision loss. Hence, it is the collective responsibility of families, teachers, doctors, healthcare organizations and government to ensure children’s health and well-being,” says Dr Ramesh Kekunnaya, Head, Child Sight Institute, L V Prasad Eye Institute.