Let students spend more time outdoors to curb myopia

Currently, while less than half the people in the United States and Europe are myopic, more than 80 per cent of young Singaporean adults have myopia.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has introduced initiatives to stop the onset and rapid progression of myopia in schoolchildren.

However, our current school system is still very much about drills and homework, with few outdoor activities.

Some studies have found that time spent outdoors during childhood protects against the development of myopia.

In addition, exposure to natural light has been proven to be important in preventing myopia, supported by the fact that progression of myopia is faster in winter months.

It is thus the responsibility of MOH to work with the Education Ministry to tackle this serious health issue, which can lead to cataracts, retinal detachments, or even blindness in later years.

While the concept of using "bright lights" in classrooms to simulate natural light might have the potential to replicate the effects of time spent outdoors, it may be easier to encourage and promote outdoor activities during school time.

Various learning activities and classes can be held outdoors - this would be fun and engaging for more students.

Loh Chee Pheng (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2018, with the headline 'Let students spend more time outdoors to curb myopia'. Print Edition | Subscribe