The battle against myopia in children has a new champion – an app that helps parents monitor the state of their children’s eyes.
By Veronica Koh, Singapore Health
Worried that junior is spending too much time on his mobile devices? Concerned that he will ruin his eyesight and have to wear glasses soon?
Now there is a mobile app that will give parents an edge in the battle against myopia. Called Plano, it helps parents track how children use mobile devices. It tracks how long they use the device, at what distance from the eye they hold it, and what apps they are on. If absolutely necessary, it can even allow parents to shut down the device remotely.
It also screens for the onset of myopia, and alerts parents if it detects that the child’s vision has deteriorated. It provides easy-to-read reports on the child’s eye health, and will even suggest ways to help the child improve how he uses his device.
"10 per cent of children in Singapore are myopic before they start Primary 1, with some 60 per cent affected by the time they enter secondary school. This number increases to 80 per cent by the time they enter the workforce as young adults."
Dr Mo Dirani, Plano’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Early detection and correction is important, as myopia can start to affect children from as young as two to four years old.
“If parents come in early and start to create the right behaviour changes, we can delay the onset of eye conditions and reduce the risk of high myopia. The younger the child is, the easier it is to correct his habits and prevent high myopia in the future.”
Plano is currently only available in English and can be downloaded free from the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store. This will give parents access to its eye health features. To use the app’s premium features, such as the child protection functions and parental control functions, parents need pay $4.99 a month after a free first-month trial.
Launched in September 2017, Plano is the first spin-o from the Singapore Eye Research Institute-Singapore National Eye Centre’s Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme.
The app’s development comes at a time when experts predict that more than half of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050. Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world, with the problem beginning from a very young age.
Associate Professor Audrey Chia, Head and Senior Consultant, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Department, Singapore National Eye Centre, said about 10 per cent of children in Singapore are myopic before they start Primary 1, with some 60 per cent affected by the time they enter secondary school. This number increases to 80 per cent by the time they enter the workforce as young adults.
“Based on our knowledge of near work and myopia, we suggest that parents limit the time their children spend on handheld devices, discourage long hours of game playing and video watching, remind their children to take eye breaks, and encourage them to go outdoors and play,” said Prof Chia.
SOURCE: SINGAPORE HEALTH. REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION.