The frequency of nearsightedness has been steadily growing around the world and doctors say there could be several reasons for this development.
“The rates of myopia or nearsightedness, it really is, from a technical standpoint an epidemic world wide, the rates in the US have double and many places in Asia it’s up to 90% of children and teenagers are myopic,” said Dr. James Lee an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the TTU Health Science Center.
Lee said there are two main reasons the world is seeing a sky rocket in in the number of patients with nearsightedness.
“One is screen time for sure. There is a clear correlation, not a clear causation as to why more kids are becoming nearsighted. But certainly screen time, lack of being out doors, those are contributory,” Lee said.
He suggests that over time, constant staring at close objects may stop a child’s ability to focus on things farther away.
Lee said it doesn’t sound like a big deal and all you have to do is wear glasses and you’re fine. But, there are some serious health issues that it can cause later in life.
“It increases your risk of getting a retinal tear or detachment in the future if you have this eye that’s large than normal. The thing about an eye growing is that it doesn’t make more tissue to fill up that eye, it just stretches the tissue so it’s thinner and it’s more likely to tear and get tears and detachments,” Lee said.
The second reason there are more cases of myopia is because of school work. But, in both cases the recommendation is simple.
“General guidelines that the American Academy of Ophthalmology gives is that anytime a kid has done 20-minutes of near work, be that on a screen or with books, they should take a break, some time, at least a couple minutes to do something away from that near, that screen or book,” Lee said.
He also recommends that parents limit the amount of time your child spends on a device to a couple hours a day. He said the best thing for their eye development is to send them outside to play and where they can focus on objects that are further away.