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Tackling Myopia with Dragons and treehouses by Hwee Goh

There have been so many boring factual books explaining the reasons for myopia. All rather like textbooks and if you have children , you know, they are not fun at all to read, leaving no impression on the child.

I see lots of children from age 4 for myopia control in my clinic and I was curious to see the impact Hwee Goh’s book would have on my five year old son. I read it to him (twice a day because he asked for it).He loved it for the twin boys in the story , Lord Myopic who was going to cover Murktown in Fog and he chants ,up to today ,the Clear vision recipe. I have bought copies of the book to gift to my young patients to teach them about myopia and it works well especially those under 10 years old.

I have asked Hwee to share with us more about her books. Hwee and I first met as schoolmates and council mates at Raffles Junior College. She is a former TV journalist who spent 16 years at Channel NewsAsia. She traveled with all three of Singapore’s prime ministers, and ended her sojourn there as news editor. Currently a media consultant specialising in news-related writing and training, Hwee has written ten books for children. She continues to build Readers for Life @hweezbooks on FB/IG.

I remember very distinctly that it wasn’t till the early 2010s, that I began to hear about cultivating good habits to battle myopia. I have a pair of bookish, identical twins who always had their noses in a book and they were becoming shortsighted. Advice to take breaks from near work was given at the eye doctor’s but it is a culture we have not yet developed. Now is the time to ingrain that habit into our collective childhood, to let children know they have the power to do something about their myopia.

Do you have childhood stories that have always stayed with you? Are you somebody who takes comfort in re-reading your favourite books? Stories we grow up with form the core of what we are.

Come 2018, I became acquainted with Dr Mo Dirani, a former researcher at the Singapore National Eye Centre, who carried out a large study in his native Australia on identical twins and their eye habits, and myopia.  It was an aha moment for me.

Based on Dr Dirani’s epidemiological research, I crystallised the key messages for good eye habits into a ‘magic’ Clear Vision recipe. Naturally, only children have this Clear Vision Power. I then started to build the world for The Plano Adventures (based on main character Prof Plano : planoapp is a local startup by Dr Dirani seeded from the Singapore National Eye Centre). I needed identical twins, and I created rambunctious twin boys Zed and Zee – Zed loves reading but also the great outdoors; Zee wears ‘bottle-bottle glasses’ and is a whiz on his ‘bottle-bottle screen’, which is this world’s version of the digital device.

Enter my talented illustrator David Liew. I would develop the key people, storyline and places and he would multiply my imagination. His art fed back to my writing. We ended up with myopic cave dragons who find their colour outdoors. We also have a spunky grandmother fighting cybugs who’ve sent all the children indoors into their treehouses. Did I mention that there are also robots and a neverending game?

Every book of the five-book series ended up on the bestsellers’ list, and for this I am grateful. My young readers show me that these are stories are best read around 5-7 and they come back to tell me they have Clear Vision Power. Planoapp is now bringing this Clear Vision Recipe to all primary schools, supported by the Health Promotion Board.

If every child grows up with these stories: this new collective childhood with a culture of good eye habits will happen just yet.

You can purchase some of Hwee’s books from these links (to the first book, Trouble in Murktown) :

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.sg/plano-adventures-Trouble-Murktown/dp/9814828483

Goguru by Times:

https://www.goguru.com.sg/trouble-in-murktown

Kinokuniya Singapore:

https://singapore.kinokuniya.com/bw/9789814828482

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