It can be pretty difficult to find anybody who would say reading is a bad thing, unless you were relating that discussion to poor vision and nearsightedness. If you’re like most, you’ve probably heard people mention that frequent reading leads to poor vision, especially when straining the eyes to read small text. At AC Lens, we fully support reading, but we don’t blame many people for wondering whether their reading habits contribute to their poor vision.
So what’s the verdict? Does reading cause nearsightedness, or is myopia linked to other causes?
While scientists have debated the cause of myopia for decades, they are still researching whether myopic progression is related to reading. What scientists do know is that nearsightedness is most directly related to genetic factors.
Asian countries have a higher rate of myopia compared to the rest of the world, and while this could indicate lifestyle and cultural influences playing a role in myopic progression, it’s more likely related to genetic factors.
While the general consensus is that genetics determine myopic progression, there are some interesting statistics and facts that correlate reading with poor vision. Myopia has been scientifically correlated with IQ level and other intelligence based achievements, which in turn correlates to time spent studying, reading, and performing other “close range” work. Whether reading is the cause or contributor to myopia in higher intelligence individuals, or simply correlated to poor vision is currently unknown.
Additionally, there have been studies as seen here that have associated myopia with time spent indoors & exposure to sunlight, which would indicate reading may not contribute to poor eyesight at all.
Should I limit Reading or Read Larger Text?
Do not let the fear of myopia stop you from reading. Even if there is a small correlation between reading and nearsightedness, it’s not known if reading is the actual cause, or simply associated with being nearsighted. Furthermore, the benefits one gains from learning and reading far outweigh the drawbacks of being myopic. We’re grateful that modern technology has given us the tools to treat shortsightedness, so we shouldn’t let any vision loss prevent us from doing what we love.
Myopia also is likely to develop regardless of whether an individual is an avid reader or not in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition, so it’s not worth it to avoid reading out of fear of vision problems.
For those who do read frequently, we would however suggest looking away from the book every 5-10 minutes to alleviate eye strain that may or may not cause headaches and red-eye syndrome.