Gadgets May Hurt Eyesight

The incidence of <"">myopia—nearsightedness—appears to be on the rise and the culprit could very well be linked to the ongoing increase in technology, said the Telegraph Herald (THOnline)

The National Eye Institute just issued the findings of a study in which it noted that myopia increases could be a result of the technology “boom,” said THOnline. Myopia, a condition in which the eyeball elongates or the cornea develops too much of a curve, causes the eye to be unable to focus the light that enters into the eye, causing objects in the distance to appear blurry, explained THOnline. The cornea is the front covering on the eye.

The incidence of myopia is much higher than in the 1970s, said the National Eye Institute Study. In the 1970s, about 25 percent of the people diagnosed in 1971 and 1972 were myopic, versus 41.6 percent from 1999 to 2004, said THOnline.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology explained that signs and symptoms of myopia include: “Headaches; eyestrain; squinting; and difficulty seeing distant objects, such as highway signs,” adding that “nearsightedness can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.”

Dr. David S. Friedman, professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland noted that looking at things such as when reading, texting on cell phones, and reading iPod screens, can force the eye to compensate, noted THOnline. “It says, I need to get longer to see more clearly at this distance,” said Dr. Friedman, quoted THOnline. “This is pretty interesting, seeing it increase so dramatically in the United States,” noted Dr. Friedman, when discussing the increase in nearsightedness. Dr. Friedman, who was not involved in the study said, “This is a well-designed study, and the results are quite believable.”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology explained that, “Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct nearsightedness. Your eye care professional can prescribe lenses that will correct the problem and help you to see your best.”

The researchers were unable to determine what causes myopia and could not explain how to prevent myopia, which does have, said THOnline, a “genetic component.” Susan Vitale, a co-author of the study and an epidemiologist at the National Eye Institute, wrote that Americans performing more “close-up work” could explain myopia’s increase, quoted THOnline.

The largest change between the America of the 1970s and today, according to the study team, is the rise in technology and technology use, such as personal computers, MP3 players, portable video games, and cell phones, said THOnline. “Certainly, there is a lot more computer work now,” Friedman said, according to THOnline.

Myopia can present other issues, for instance, those with serious myopia could develop retinal detachments or degeneration; therefore, an increase in myopic populations could point to an increased reporting of detachments or degenerations, explained at THOnline.

Some ophthalmologist experts suggest that being outdoors enhances the opportunities to focus objects at a variety of distances, not just up close. “It’s important for kids to get outside and play outside…. Studies in Australia indicate not doing outdoor activities is also related to a rise in nearsightedness,” said Friedman, according to THOnline.

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