A study out of Waterloo has found too much screen time and not enough outdoor time is causing irreversible damage to children’s eyes.
Even an hour more outside every week will go along way in preventing Myopia, or nearsightedness, which affects almost 90% of high school students in Asia.
The numbers aren’t nearly as high here in Canada, but according to a recent study by three groups including the Centre for Ocular Research & Education in Waterloo, they’re still troubling.
“We’re finding children are starting to have higher nearsightedness at a younger age and that means as an adult their prescription is higher, increases risk of retinal degeneration, retinal detachments.”
Dr. Mike Yang is the study’s lead investigator. He says 6% of children aged 6-8 in the study were nearsighted, that number jumped to nearly 30% in kids 11-13 years old.
In 2015 a world health organization report projected that in 2050, half of the world population would be nearsighted and technology is a big reason.
“When they’re spending so much time on the screen, they’re spending less time outdoors, therefore an increased chance of becoming near sighted.” Dr. Yang.
Doctors don’t know why being outdoors is better for your eyes, but they suspect when looking at objects further away it puts less strain on the eyes.
Nearsightedness can be slowed down but not reversed. There are special contact lenses and eye drops that doctors can prescribe that will help slowdown the progression of it.
The doctor isn’t saying kids can’t be on their phones, tablets or play video games, he suggests they take a break every half an hour, go outside and look at things far away to give their eyes a break.