Myopia coalition challenges families to limit screen use over Bank Holiday weekend

The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition has launched a Screen Staycation Guide with tips about lifestyle factors that can influence myopia

child in pink glasses
Pixabay/Luisella Planeta Leoni

The Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) is raising the profile of lifestyle factors that can influence the progression of myopia with a Bank Holiday campaign encouraging families to limit screen use.

With the support of optometrist, Dr Keyur Patel, the GMAC has developed a Screen Staycation Guide – with suggestions for lifestyle habits that can help to limit the progression of myopia.

The guide encourages parents to ensure their children spend time outside, limit screen time and to consult with an optometrist if they have questions about myopia.

Alongside Patel, GP Dr Stephanie Ooi and parent influencer, Myleene Klass, are supporting the campaign.

The Screen Staycation Guide notes that an extra 76 minutes outdoors each day can reduce the risk of myopia by half.

A study of 1500 parents commissioned by the GMAC revealed that around a third (36%) of children are spending five or more hours on screens during the school holidays.

Only one in five parents reported feeling worried about how their child’s use of screens might affect their eye health.

Four in ten parents were not aware that extended periods on digital devices has been linked to eye problems, such as myopia.

GMAC UK lead, Matt Oerding, shared that the coalition is encouraging parents to make screen-free swaps over the Bank Holiday weekend.

“Childhood myopia is one of the major public health challenges of our time and is of huge concern as its prevalence in children aged 10 to 16 has more than doubled in the last 50 years,” he highlighted.

Patel agreed that myopia has become a global public health issue.

“Early intervention has an impact on young children, which is important parents and ECPs are aware of – the earlier we intervene, the more impact we can have on that final level of myopia,” he said.

The GMAC, which was formed in 2018, is an advisory board under the World Council of Optometry.

It has organised public awareness campaigns in the US since mid-2019. The Screen Staycation Campaign is the first campaign to be launched by the GMAC within the UK.