Action being taken to tackle myopia in schools

We thank Mr Suresh for his letter (Tackle myopia in primary schools; Oct 12).

Although Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates in the world, over the last decade, the prevalence of myopia among Primary 6 pupils has remained stable at about 65 per cent. The corresponding figure for Primary 1 pupils is 28 per cent.

In schools, classrooms are equipped with suitable lighting to give students a conducive learning environment. Windows along both sides of the classroom allow in daylight, and this is complemented by artificial lighting with a minimum brightness of 500 lux, as recommended by the Singapore Standard Code of Practice for lighting.

According to a World Health Organisation report released in 2015, the risk of myopia is reduced when children spend more than two hours outdoors every day. As spending time outdoors has a positive impact on eyesight, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has also incorporated outdoor programmes into curriculum hours.

These include physical education lessons, co-curricular activities, the Programme for Active Learning in Primary 1 and 2, and three outdoor camps during the primary and secondary school years. Students can also borrow sports equipment to play recreational games outside curriculum hours. Specific to tackling myopia, primary school pupils are even taught about eye care during PE lessons, so that they know how to take proper care of their eyesight.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has also put in place the National Myopia Prevention Programme since 2001, which includes annual vision screening in pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and a comprehensive health promotion programme that encourages children to go outdoors to play.

Recognising that parents play an important role in their child's eye care, NurtureSG published a mini-booklet, 5 Habit Hacks For A Healthier Child, in July last year to educate parents on the importance of devoting more time for outdoor activities to prevent early onset of myopia.

MOE will continue to work closely with schools and the HPB to ensure that students understand the importance of eye care and to have a school environment that promotes good eyesight.

Tan Chen Kee (Mrs)

Divisional Director, Student Development Curriculum

Ministry of Education

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline Action being taken to tackle myopia in schools. Subscribe