Let’s look at relative distance activities, today!
This installment will let us take the information from Installment #1 and address some high risk myopia habits.
As a quick recap, here were the action items from the first installment:
- 1. Observe how much time your child spends focused up close. If possible, create a daily log.
- 2. Observe the distance. How many centimeters is the child from up-close objects?
- 3. Observe the medium. Books? Computers?
- 4. Observe the activity. Is it for school? Reading? Games?
Hopefully you kept a bit of a log. Many times we think we know, but writing it down and having some time to add up the actual close-up hours gives us a more objective perspective. I have had many parents quite surprised at the real numbers of close-up time their children spent any given week!
Soon we will start to look at some rehabilitative strategies, if your child already wears glasses. But first, we want to get to the root, which is the eye strain.
All the exercise and rehab tricks in the world are useless, if the cause of the problem persists.
If you haven’t read the 4 Pillars, please do so.
Now we need an honest assessment of close-up time. How much of it was for required activities, such as homework, study, reading practice? How much of it was playing with three dimensional objects? How much of it was superfluous, playing games, watching TV?
Three dimensional objects are less of a threat to eye health, since there is a lot of focal change happening. The focusing muscle (ciliary) continually adjusts to provide sharp vision, as the child plays with physical objects. We don’t need to worry about this, compared to static focal plane (looking at a screen or page), your child’s eyes can cope with this type of close-up focus just fine.
Then we have the required close-up, for homework and study.
This can’t be helped. For these pieces we will work on some strain reduction strategies in future installments. There is quite a bit we can (and have to) do, to limit the focal-plane strain of fixed close-up focus. But first, let’s deal with the close-up time we can cut.
Consider this to be an important long term, lifestyle programming for your child.
Over 40 years in this field, we have found that children who were more active in their youth, generally have lower myopia. We can speculate at lengths as to the reason – the one thing we know as fact, that physical activity and lower myopia strongly correlate.
What is more interesting than the obvious (physical activity = not staring at a screen or page), is the larger implication:
Your child becomes programmed, predisposed, to favor certain activities, depending on what you expose him/her to, early in life. If there is swimming, soccer practice, martial arts, biking, hiking, building model trains, flying model planes – you name it – the activity base later in life is much wider.
You do your child a great favor by being a parent who helps him/her explore preferences of activity, besides playing computer games and watching TV.
I don’t mean to get into parenting in a larger sense here – only to the extent that we discuss eye strain reduction in this installment.
There is a topic on this in the blog, take a look here.
If your child gets into figure skating or hokey, it is much easier to find these activities appealing in adult life. The passive consumption of media by watching movies or playing online will be likely be lower, and this adds up to many thousands of hours of less close-up time.
Thousands of hours of less close up time – that you can set the stage for now, by looking at non-close up activities to replace some of the superfluous close-up items in the log you just created.
I promise, we will talk more about the tangible aspects of myopia rehab, soon. But this, the catching eye strain at it’s very root, is where you have the biggest opportunity to have a long term win, by maintaining the gains we will create in the program.
What can you do, today?
Take the log, identify the close-up time that is really not necessary. Whether it is one hour or ten, over the course of the week – let’s take it.
Can we replace some of that, with other activities? Are there local groups of parents, organizing some sport, artistry, any activity that does not involve a primarily fixed, close-up focal plane?
As always, let’s make this a game. It’s not a one day huge project. It is a matter of discovery, letting the child discover what he/she may enjoy. It could just be introducing a new possible venue, once a month – or once every other month. Nothing is important, that you may spend ten hours on today. It is the small things, the little tweaks, that change the long term trajectory. It’s the introduction to archery, after your child saw Hunger Games, that may create a life-long hobby of shooting arrows at distant targets – it is this discovery process, that will help build a solid foundation of low eye strain activity.
Put it in your calendar. Once a week, a half hour blocked for activities research.
Keep a list, with an attached pen, somewhere clearly accessible in your house, to write down new activity ideas.
Make a commitment to having at least one or two activities happening.
Review this, at least once a month. Keep a long term repeat-alert in your calendar for it.
You succeed if you cut any amount of time out of the game-play section of your child’s close-up time log. Ideally, that time should go to zero. Computers games, is a lot like candy – empty calories, that just damage teeth.
But, very important, we can’t just take this away from the child.
It is our job as parents, to introduce other activities, and allow the child’s passion to replace the game time with something that he/she finds more engaging.
If you want help or suggestions, drop a note in the forum. Master this, over time, with calendar milestones. All the specific myopia rehab work we are going to do, hinges on reducing long term eye strain. To keep your child’s eyes healthy, we have to look at close up time as a limited resource.