With 65 per cent of our children becoming myopic by Primary 6, and 83 per cent of young adults myopic, it is understandable that parents and the Government should be concerned about myopia in children.
Unfortunately, this valid concern has been exploited by entities that tout unscientific, non-evidence-based methods that claim to treat myopia.
The Singapore Optometric Association (SOA) would like to highlight some misconceptions to help the public be aware of fraudulent claims on myopia treatment.
- Wearing spectacles will worsen myopia: This is not true. In fact, there are several specially designed prescription spectacle lenses that have been shown in validated studies to retard myopia progression. Denying appropriately prescribed spectacles to children will compromise their vision and hinder learning and performance.
- Magnetic field treatments and eye massages: There is no evidence to show such treatments are effective to cure, retard or prevent myopia.
- Training of extra-ocular muscles: These muscles control the movement and alignment of the eyeballs, not the focusing power of the eye. Therefore, it is not a proven treatment of myopia or pseudomyopia (temporary myopia common in young eyes).
- Eye movement exercises to prevent myopia: There has been no scientific evidence to support this. The only evidence that has been widely accepted by the eye-care community, including the Ministry of Health, is two or three hours a day of outdoor time, and proper visual habits, such as regular breaks from near-vision activities.
- Patented devices, such as a myopia regulator apparatus, that claim to treat myopia: Any device that claims to have therapeutic effects will need to be approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for safety.
There have been no such devices approved by HSA for the treatment of myopia, according to the Singapore Medical Device Register.
- Using only letter charts to measure myopia: Myopia is a type of refractive error, which can be measured only by proper testing done by qualified and registered eye-care professionals.
In addition, the SOA calls on the Ministry of Health to respond to its formal requests to investigate these entities that provide eye-care services by unregistered eye-care practitioners.
We hope to have this addressed urgently as many people have fallen victim to such claims, endangering the vision and eye health of the vulnerable.
Chui Wen Juan
Singapore Optometric Association Council