For years, doctors and researchers have been trying to crack the code as to why certain countries and populations have such a large prevalence of myopia in their population.
In certain areas of Asia, over 90% of their school children wear contact lenses or eyeglasses by the time they graduate high school due to Myopia. On the contrary, developing nations have shown a very low rate of Myopia, which has made many question what causes this common eye condition. While genetic factors do factor into myopic progression, the myopic rate has more than doubled in the last century in most developed countries, which leads many on the forefront of Myopic research to believe that Myopia is triggered by more than just genetic factors.
What Causes Myopia and Nearsightedness?
Due to the rise in myopia in many developed nations, many researchers had previously speculated that reading along with an increased time spent in front of computers and televisions was the primary cause for shortsightedness.
While reading and time spent indoors may have seemed like the obvious answer, a recent study was published that suggests that reading may have nothing to do with myopic progression.
This study, which was published in the journal Investigative Opthalmology and Visual Science, correlated exposure to sunlight and outdoor play for children age 8-9 with a greatly reduced risk of nearsightedness by the time those children were in their teenage years. Doctors are speculating that increased exposure to bright light, which triggers dopamine production in the eye as the primary cause for reduced myopic development, although at this point, only correlations have been made, and no formal causes have been scientifically identified.
What Steps Can Be Taken To Avoid Myopia?
While there is no conclusive evidence behind the absolute cause of myopic progression, it’s pretty safe to say that encouraging your children to spend more time outdoors is a great way not only to decrease their of Myopia, but also to encourage creative and healthy play. Going to the park, playground, or participating in sports are great ways to spend quality time outdoors, and these activities also encourage a healthy lifestyle away from the television.
The other good news from this study is that reading and learning has been shown to have little relation to the development of nearsightedness. Because of this, it’s still possible to support a lowered rate of myopia while also encouraging academic endeavors such as reading and studying for people of all ages.
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