Experts urge parents to focus on children’s eye health | Vista Eye Specialist

PETALING JAYA: Parents should never neglect the importance of eye health in their children as the prevalence of myopia (short-sightedness) in Asian youth is currently between 70% and 87%.

According to Vista Eye Specialist consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Vienne Tai, the performance of children at school suffers when their shortsightedness is left unchecked.

She will be speaking about eye health and modern vision correction procedures during this Saturday’s StarLIVE talk, titled ‘Claim 20/20 Vision With Modern Technology’.

Dr Tai’s segment will focus on the prevalence and management of shortsightedness in children.

“Parents need to detect short-sightedness in their children early to slow down its progression,” said Dr Tai.

She said according to studies, one of the main causes is most Asian children do not get enough sunlight.

Eye care experts: (From left) Dr Tai, Dr Koh and Dr Lim.

An average of two hours of outdoor activities a day are recommended as sunlight triggers the release of dopamine in the eye and reduces eyeball elongation.

She said other contributing factors include extended device usage, unsuitable distance and posture when reading or looking at devices, dim lighting, lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition.

Dr Tai said children can apply a special 0.01% atropine eye drop before bedtime and wear a pair of Ortho-K contact lenses while they sleep – both of which serve to prevent the rapid progression of myopia.

There are new methods in treating hyperopia (long-sightedness) in those above the age of 40 as well, developed from procedures that were once used to treat cataracts.

Vista Eye Specialist senior consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Alan Koh said long-sightedness happens as part of a natural aging process.

He said that the lenses in our eyes, which are flexible to focus on objects at different distances, begin to lose that flexibility and weaken after the age of 40.

Today, a procedure called refractive lens exchange can be used as a more long-lasting solution to myopia, hyperopia, as well as astigmatism.

Dr Koh said that the process is very similar to cataract surgery in the sense that it involves creating a flap and replacing the old eye lenses with artificial ones, using a high-precision laser.

“The procedure takes just 10 minutes to perform. It’s relatively painless and patients can then go glasses-free,” said Dr Koh, adding that patients could return to work, as soon as the day after the surgery is completed on both eyes.

The third speaker Dr Paul Lim will be speaking about procedures recommended for patients in their early 20s.

The more popular procedure today is ‘laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis’ (LASIK) but the other procedure he will talk about is a lens-based procedure called ‘implantable contact lens’ (ICL).

“LASIK was approved over 20 years ago and it’s a lot safer today, with the risk of complications well below 1%,” said the consultant ophthalmologist, cataract and refractive surgeon.

ICL is not as well known as LASIK, but it is a less invasive procedure that involves injecting a flexible lens into a precise spot in the eye.

Dr Lim will focus on educating the public about the common side effects, possible risks and dispelling common misconceptions about the two procedures.

The StarLIVE talk will be held on Saturday from 10am to noon at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya.

Admission is free and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.