Childhood myopia rates stable over past decade: HPB

The Republic may have one of the world's highest childhood myopia prevalence rates, but the silver lining is that the rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade.
The Republic may have one of the world's highest childhood myopia prevalence rates, but the silver lining is that the rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Republic may have one of the world's highest childhood myopia prevalence rates, but the silver lining is that the rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) said that over the past decade, it has been at about 65 per cent among Primary 6 pupils, and roughly 28 per cent for those in Primary 1.

In 2011, HPB had reported a dip of 5 per cent in the number of short-sighted children after a decade of running the National Myopia Prevention Programme. Then, an HPB survey found that while 38 pupils out of every 100 had myopia in 2004, the number dropped to 33 in 2009.

Under the National Myopia Prevention Programme launched in 2011, HPB disburses a Spectacle Voucher Fund to underprivileged students who need glasses, which has benefited more than 37,000 children.

Students in pre-school, and primary and secondary school are also screened annually. Those in pre-school and Primary 1 who have defective vision are referred to HPB's Refraction Clinic for further management.

Public education efforts by the HPB include teaching pre-school educators about myopia prevention, holding talks in schools and distributing booklets on eye care to students and parents.