The world is becoming increasingly more myopic, or nearsighted. It is estimated that approximately half of the world’s population will be nearsighted by the year 2050. That’s nearly 5 BILLION people!
What exactly is Myopia? Myopia occurs when the eyeball is slightly elongated, causing light to focus in front of the retina, thus creating blurry distance vision. Near vision is still sharp, which is why the condition is often referred to as nearsightedness. Because your eyes grow as you grow, myopia usually starts appearing in school age children and adolescence.
While for some people, myopia may just be a simple inconvenience, and means that they need to wear glasses and/or contacts, for those with high myopia it can be much more concerning. With high myopia (typically around -6.00 or more), individuals are at greater risk for too much stretching of their retina. This increases their chances of retinal detachments, cataracts, glaucoma, and potential blindness. The higher the prescription, the greater the risk, and the more frequently you should have your eyes dilated.
Why is this happening? Research is suggesting that recent shifts in environmental factors are to blame. People are now spending less time outdoors, and more time doing near work activities, especially school age children. Not only are children doing extensive near work while doing their homework, but now they are also spending more time on computer screens, phones, and tablets.
So what can you do to help prevent it? It is simple, all you need to do is go outdoors and play with your children! Spending time outdoors, in the sunlight, has been clinically proven to prevent or delay the onset of myopia. And as an added bonus, when children are playing outside, they are not focusing on hand held video games, computers, and other near objects. This gives their focusing system a much needed break.
If you have questions about what can be done to slow the rate of myopia progression in children, our doctors are here to help!