Why So Many More Kids Need Glasses . . . and What You Can Do About It

Photo Credit: Olya Komarova

Nearsightedness (aka myopia) is becoming a worldwide epidemic, and all the time spent in “near” activities—such as looking at a phone or tablet screen—may be a big reason why. 

According to NPR, 42% of the US population is now myopic, up enormously from 25% in the seventies; the rate of increase is even worse in some East Asian countries where 90% of young adults are myopic. Additionally, with kids being introduced to screens at VERY early ages these days (as many parents have discovered, kids as young as 18 months can operate digital games, so putting them in front of a phone or iPad has become a default pacifier for a child who needs to sit still), it doesn’t seem likely that trends will reverse all by themselves. Moreover, myopia, which comes from overstretching of the eyeball, gets worse over time, making it all the more important that parents do what they can to fend it off in their children.

Science to the rescue! But science suggests an antidote. In a great case of research being put into action, it seems that getting your kids outdoors helps to keep their vision sound. The reason has to do with natural light, which, even on a cloudy day, stimulates the release of dopamine, which can slow eyeball stretching (and, not for nothing, encourages kids to look at things at greater distances). Taiwan mandated 2 hours of outdoor time for their primary school kids and saw the rate of myopia fall from 50% in 2011 to 45% four years later. Given all the other reasons being outdoors is good for kids – the physical benefits of exercise . . . the calming effects of nature – adding myopia prevention to the list simply reinforces the importance of building two hours of daily outdoor time into the schedule of every child. Read the full NPR article from Maria Godoy here: https://n.pr/4590r1d.