Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thu, Dec 16, 2010,
New Straits Times

By Syed Umar Ariff

JOHOR BARU: More children living in urban areas have become prone to develop myopia, or short-sightedness. This is caused by visual strains experienced from, among others. continuous exposure to television, computer monitors and video games in places that are not well lit.
Although unable to provide the statistics for it, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Associate Professor Dr Haliza Abdul Mutalib said since more than 15 years ago, there was a significant jump in numbers among urban children becoming myopic. 
She said there were two factors that could lead a person to become myopic; genetics and environment.
"Myopia can be passed down from parent to child if the condition is congenital. The other factor is caused by the present environment being filled with visual demands," she told the New Straits Times recently.
Dr Haliza, who is also attached to the UKM optometry clinic in Kuala Lumpur, said a study revealed that myopia was not as common among rural children, compared with those living in urban areas.
"Children in rural areas usually spend most of their time outdoors while urban children generally stay indoors watching television or playing video games.

"Indoor activities, especially in a darkened and not properly lit room will cause visual strains as there are insufficient light for the eyes to see properly."

Dr Haliza was met at a community programme here recently where the participants included UKM optometry students. The programme was opened by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
She said myopia could even be detected among pre-schoolers as many parents have come to disregard the importance of a regular eye check for their children.
"Maybe, they are not aware of their children's eye condition.
"But they must remember that children can never tell or complain that they are myopic. They may not understand their condition." She explained that it was not true that modern visual entertainment systems like the liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions, could mitigate the affects of visual strains.
Certain quarters have claimed that LCD televisions were "gentler" to the eyes and the chances of developing visual disorder from watching them was minimal.
"There is no such thing. As long as there is visual demand in places that are not bright enough for the eyes, the risk will always be there."
Dr Haliza advised parents to bring their children for constant eye checks to detect any disorder, so that early treatments could be meted out.
She said the UKM optometry clinic is open to the public and can be contacted at 03-92897499 for appointments.

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