Take precautions when going out in the sun

I read last Thursday's article with great interest ("New way to look after children's eyes").

Using a smartwatch with a light meter is an intriguing way to incentivise outdoor activity, which can help to slow down the progression of myopia.

However, increasing outdoor activity can increase exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with cellular and DNA damage.

This damage is associated with the development of skin cancer, premature ageing of the skin and pigmentary disorders.

The damage acquired from ultraviolet radiation is accumulative, and paediatric exposure contributes significantly to cancer risk.

To reduce the risk of ultraviolet radiation exposure, members of the public should be encouraged to adopt sun-protection practices as they pursue more outdoor activities.

These practices include limiting the exposure to sunlight between 10am and 4pm.

Members of the public should also be dressed in sun-protective textiles, which are tightly woven and loose-fitting clothing which covers as much skin as possible.

Broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF15 should also be used.

Previously, there was a perception that a decrease in light intensity to the eye with the use of wide-brimmed hats, umbrellas and shaded areas, such as tree cover, might decrease the benefit of outdoor activity for preventing myopia.

However, recent studies have found that light intensity levels to the eye remain largely sufficient in the day, even with the use of such shades.

Chua Shunjie (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Take precautions when going out in the sun'. Print Edition | Subscribe