Myopia, also known as nearsightedness or the difficulty in seeing objects in the distance has become alarmingly common. Did you know that 96.5% of Seoul boys have been diagnosed with Myopia? 1.4 million people, that’s 22.6% of the population are affected by myopia. The incidence of myopia has increased 50% in the United States over the last 50 years, and up 80% in China. These are alarming statistics that are being overlooked at finding the cause to why this is occurring.
According to nature.com, “The modern rise in myopia mirrored a trend for children in many countries to spend more time engaged in reading, studying or — more recently — glued to computer and smartphone screens. This is particularly the case in East Asian countries, where the high value placed on educational performance is driving children to spend longer in school and on their studies. A report last year3 from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that the average 15-year-old in Shanghai now spends 14 hours per week on homework, compared with 5 hours in the United Kingdom and 6 hours in the United States.”
Additionally, another factor that has been found to be correlated is the amount of time children spent outside. In 2007, Donald Mutti and his colleagues at the Ohio State University College of Optometry in Columbus reported the results of a study that tracked more than 500 8 and 9 year olds in California who started out with healthy vision. After five years, one in five of the children had developed myopia, and the only environmental factor that was strongly associated with risk was time spent outdoors. “We thought it was an odd finding,” recalls Mutti, “but it just kept coming up as we did the analyses.” A year later, Rose and her colleagues arrived at much the same conclusion in Australia. After studying more than 4,000 children at Sydney primary and secondary schools for three years, they found that children who spent less time outside were at greater risk of developing myopia.
So what can you do? Again, the biggest and best thing you can do for your children is to get them outside. The more time the better. Additionally, decreasing the amount of time you let your child on computers, playing playstation or xbox or whatever game system they have, or the amount of time they spend looking at their phones. You could declare certain times technology free times, go on walks or bike rides with your family, play catch, grow a garden, go to a park or beach. Obviously, if you know me and my family by now you know we love to get outside because the more I learn and the more I read, getting outdoors is the best thing for you and your family.