Screen Time and Lack of Sun Is Causing Myopia

Research reveals that a myopia epidemic is spreading due to increased screen time and less energy spent outside.

With the development of tech and the arrival of the pandemic, many children often resort to their tech devices instead of running around in the playground.

This unfortunate reality is causing a nearsightedness epidemic. The onset of nearsightedness usually occurs between the ages of 5 and 16, strongly associated with a lack of sunshine exposure.

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Myopia, a disease that affects many people, causes near objects to seem distinct while far-distant ones appear fuzzy. It happens when light rays incorrectly bend (refract) due to the shape of the eye or specific portions of the eye.

According to eye professionals, the illness manifests in more children and younger ages. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2050, myopia will affect 50% of the world's population, up from its current 30%.

Children are becoming overscheduled and have less free time due to increased extracurricular activities and academic pressure. The amount of time spent using computers and watching media has increased substantially. Despite decreases in crime rates nationwide, parents are less likely to let their kids play unattended outside.

The concern that children prefer electronics to play outside is well-known. It has been challenging to quantify the harm, as frustrating as it is for parents.

The evidence is evident in the case of eyesight, though.

Our vision is declining as a result of our reliance on technology

Pediatricians like to cite the following finding from a 2015 University of Michigan research, despite the lack of consensus on the amount of time kids spend outside: Each day, kids only play unrestrained outside for seven minutes. In actuality, that number has dropped recently.

They spend more time outdoors than that because schools and daycare facilities still allow for recess, and many youngsters participate in outdoor sports. But unlike earlier decades, they aren't cycling or roving the streets.

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Myopia makes it difficult for a person to see well in the distance. Because patients with this condition have an easier time seeing objects up close, it is known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness.

Researchers claim that eyes lengthen when they do not receive enough natural light, and the longer form makes focusing more complex, making distant things look hazy.

According to Tommy Korn, an ophthalmologist based in San Diego, the visible light spectrum contains a component that stops the eyeball from enlarging excessively. Myopia can eventually result in cataracts or blindness if it is not treated with glasses or contact lenses.

Myopia diagnoses, according to Korn and other doctors, have increased over the past three years as coursework has moved online and children have spent more time indoors due to the pandemic. According to one estimate, the pandemic caused a 35% increase in myopia development in youngsters.

Kids are busy with structured activities, and when they're given the opportunity to have free time, they often choose inside activities like electronics.

- Jennifer Haggar of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine

On average, children gaze at screens for more than seven hours a day, and according to some surveys, teenagers are virtually always online. However, technology may help find a solution.

How do we keep kids' screen time to a minimum?

It might be difficult to keep an eye on a child's screen time with displays almost everywhere.

Parents should promote unplugged, unstructured activity and establish tech-free times or zones, including during meals or one night a week, to assist kids in limiting their screen use. Children can be persuaded not to use media for amusement while doing their schoolwork.

Setting screen time limitations and curfews for each day or each week, such as forbidding the use of gadgets or screens an hour before bed, might also be beneficial. Consider utilizing applications that limit how much time a youngster may spend using a smartphone, which can also be a good idea.

Reducing time spent reading closely and using digital gadgets, according to Korn, will slow the growth of myopia.

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