“Take a break”


As a mom of 3 boys of age 10 and under, I struggle to find the balance between being a parent and an optometrist.  While I welcome the quietness when my boys are occupied on their electronic devices, it gnaws at me that they are hurting their eyes in the process.  The more time they give me my much needed rest, the less time they spend outdoors, and the more they put themselves at risk of becoming nearsighted.  Everyday I see many young children whose eyeglass and/or contact lens prescription keeps changing year after year, all because of uncontrolled use of electronic devices.  

Prolonged near work causes their eye muscles to get stuck at an over-focused state, which then keeps the eye muscles from relaxing to see far.  This causes nearsightedness (also known as Myopia, in technical terms).  They can see up close but unable to see far.  If I had a penny for everytime I repeat this explanation over the course of my career as an optometrist, I’d be quite wealthy, and possibly be able to retire early.  

Researchers have predicted that by the year 2050, 50% of the world’s population will be nearsighted.  That’s very alarming statistics.  As an eyecare provider, I can prescribe glasses or contact lenses to make my younger patients see better.  But what is concerning to me is the complications associated with nearsightedness.  Patients with high myopia are at risk of developing eye diseases that can be quiet vision threatening.  These diseases include glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment.  

I may sound like a broken record to my boys, but the same advice applies to all children.  Remember to take breaks when doing near work.  In my optometry world, we recommend a rule called “30-30-30” rule.  Every 30minutes, take a 30 second break and look at an object 30 feet away.  It’s a simple rule, and if followed, we can avoid all those vision-threatening conditions that I mentioned earlier in this blog.  In the midst of my struggle to find that balance between being a mom and being an optometrist, my goal is still the same, to keep my children and my patients from being the predicted statistics.   So here I go being a broken record again:  “Every 30 minutes, take a 30 second break and look at an object 30 ft away.”