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Myopia: Nearsightedness in Children Linked with Limited Outdoor Exposure, Researchers Say

( [email protected] ) Sep 18, 2015 01:11 AM EDT
Nearsightedness may be linked to environment, according to recent discoveries by researchers. Recent spikes in the number of reported cases have scientists concerned.

Nearsightedness may be linked to environment, according to recent discoveries by researchers. Also called Myopia, the condition causes its sufferers to see close-up objects more clearly than those that are distant. Recent spikes in the number of reported cases have scientists concerned.

"Myopia has reached epidemic levels in China and many countries in East Asia," lead study author Dr. Mingguang He of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, told CBS News. "However, there is no effective intervention to prevent the development of myopia in children."

This was also the subject of a recent report by the Washington Post. For instance, the number of young adults in the United State and Europe are two times more likely to be nearsighted than when their grandparents were that age. This trend is also echoed in China, where the myopia rate stands at 80 to 90 percent amongst teens and young adults. In comparison to sixty years ago, only 10 to 20 percent of people were nearsighted.

The culprit for this increase may be lack of exposure to outdoor activities amongst children. A recent study involving 1,903 children in China found that chances of myopia decreased in children whom spent 40 more minutes outdoors. The results of the research were later published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although nearsightedness can be addressed with corrective lenses and laser surgery, long-term effects may include cataracts or retinal detachment. Other various eye diseases may occur as well. The blurriness associated with myopia happens when light entering the eye focuses on the front of the retina, but not on that actual part.

On average, children in the U.S. public school have recess time that can be as few as 20 minutes a day. Students in some Asian nations may spend even less time outside because their school day may be two or more hours longer than their Western counterparts.