Eye Health News

Nearsightedness becoming more prevalent

While myopia (also known as nearsightedness) can have a genetic link, other factors such as electronic devices and limited time outside have a tremendous impact on vision. Myopia is a result of the eyeball being too long or the cornea being too curved. The result is that objects that are far away appear to be blurry. Not only are more and more people becoming nearsighted, the age of onset is much younger with doctors seeing young children with myopia. In countries such as Japan and China, 80 to 90 percent of children completing secondary school are nearsighted. This is double and sometimes triple the number of children with the condition than in years past. In the United States, the number of Americans with myopia jumped from 25 percent in 1986 to 41 percent in 2001. And that's just the overall numbers. Broken down by age, people aged 12 to 54 saw an increase in the prevalence of myopia of 66 percent between 1971 to 1972 and 1999 to 2004. What's to blame for the dramatic increase? Researchers point their fingers at children spending less time outdoors as well as an increase in the use of electronic devices. Children in Asian countries start studying as early as 3 or 4 years of age and spend less time outdoors. This intense studying has a greater impact on the vision of younger children whose eyes are still developing. In the United States, the heavy use of electronic devices also has a significant impact on vision. Even though the genetic tendency toward myopia cannot be altered, people can take steps to help reduce the onset of nearsightedness. If using electronic devices, be sure and take frequent breaks and either go outside or look at an object in the distance for at least 10 minutes. Preventive care can help reduce future healthcare costs associated with nearsightedness.*

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