Short-sightedness, or myopia - Thinks it’s caused by devices? Think again
Individual Eye Care Optometrist Pamela Gonos says the most important thing you can do for your kids to stop them becoming short-sighted and having vision issues later in life is to get your kids outdoors. That's the message from researchers looking into an expected increase in the worldwide rate of short-sightedness.
The World Health Organisation said short-sightedness, or myopia, already affects about 30% of the world's population. That figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2050 and researchers believe it will mainly be down to one thing — children spending all their time indoors.
In Australia, myopia will go from around 4 to 22 million by 2050. Myopia develops when the eye becomes elongated. Light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina, and objects further away become harder to see.
The Sydney Myopia Study, which assessed the vision of 4,000 school children found that we don't have the same rates of changes as has been noticed in East Asia, but we have pockets of children who are much more likely to be myopic.
For instance if we go into academically selective schools, we’ll find that the rate of prevalence of myopia in those schools is very much higher than it’s in the normal school population.
At first it was thought the jump in non-genetic myopia must be due to children spending more time on computers, smart phones and iPads. However, many researchers now agree that it’s not the devices, but a related issue. Increased myopia is most likely caused by children spending less time outside.
"An eye that's myopic is an eye that's growing too fast, too quickly and what we are actually thinking may be occurring is that when children spend time outdoors they are getting enough release of retinal dopamine to actually regulate the growth of their eye," Professor Katheryn Rose said.
"There have now been two trials, one in Taiwan and one in China that have actually shown that they can reduce the incidence of myopia in those populations by increasing time outdoors for children."
So how much time outside is enough?
"There seems to be a general agreement that, say, somewhere between 10-15 hours a week outdoors is enough to prevent the development of myopia," Professor Rose said.
Researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute are working on a range of treatments for children who show signs of becoming severely short-sighted.
How can Individual Eye Care help?
Individual Eye Care can look after short-sighted customers through special optical corrections like low dose atropine eye drops, as well as spectacle and contact lenses that can slow the progression.
With over 15 years in Stockland Merrylands and the combined optical experience of over 40 years, you can trust that the team at Individual Eye Care will look after your family's optical needs.
Pay them a visit on ground level opposite of Gloria Jeans or call 9637 1122 to book an appointment today.