It’s not uncommon to spot a child rubbing their eyes or complaining of dry eyes in Singapore. So, what exactly causes it and what can parents do to help their children? Dr Zena Lim, Medical Director of The Children’s Eye & ENT Centre tells us.
If my child rubs their eyes often, does that mean he or she has dry eyes?
Contrary to popular belief, little kids don’t get dry eyes. Having dry eyes is something that comes with age, when the tear ducts start producing fewer tears. Rather than dry eyes, your child is likely to have symptoms similar to dry eyes that are caused by eye allergies.
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Children in Singapore are more prone to having eye allergies due to the climate in Singapore and frequent use of air conditioning. It can also be caused by dust allergies.
Are there are any other causes of feeling itchiness in the eyes in young kids?
The main culprit these days would be the continuous use of gadgets. Here are some easy-to-follow tips to reduce the occurrence of eye irritation:
- Limit the use of electronic gadgets to 15 or 30mins each time. This prevents them from overstraining their eyes.
- Use a humidifier if your child is in an air-conditioned environment to reduce the dryness in the air. Alternatively, turn off the air-conditioning as this causes the eyes to dry out faster.
- If your child is tearing or their eyes are turning red, use lubricants to ease the irritation.
Any tips for administering lubricants on young kids?
When dropping eye drops into your child’s eyes, you don’t need it to land on the dead centre of the eye. I sometimes see parents prying their child’s eye open by tugging on the upper and lower eyelid, trying to do just that, and all it does it scare the child and make them not want to ever get eye drops again.
Instead, all you need to do is gently pull down the lower eyelid and ensure the droplet lands on the eyeball. Once they know it won’t be uncomfortable, they’ll let you do it more willingly.
If you still have difficulty putting eye drops on your kid, try putting it on him while he is asleep. It’ll be a much easier task.
Dr Zena Lim is a USA fellowship trained Consultant Ophthalmologist and Adult & Pediatric Eye Surgeon. She is also the Medical Director of the Focal Eye Centre and The Children’s Eye & ENT Centre. She was speaking at the launch event of Eye Mo, which has made its way back to Singapore early this year. Eye Mo can now be found in over 1,000 stores across Singapore.