Experts are warning that an epidemic of short-sightedness is affecting children due to the fact they spend too much time indoors and not enough time outside.
Short-sightedness is simply another name for the condition called myopia, which causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects are seen clearly; it is known that. in extreme circumstances, the condition can lead to total blindness.
Australian researchers are concerned because they are seeing an increase on myopia in kids, with the highest rates being in countries which have intensive education regimes.
As Professor Kathryn Rose, head of orthoptics at the University of Technology Sydney, said to reporters, the number of kids who have the condition is increasing.
“We’re noticing a rise in the level of high myopia, which is the problematic one. It’s clear that there are big environmental drivers in myopia because the prevalence rate in some countries has shot up over a matter of decades. While people used to think myopia was genetic, it’s quite clear from the rapid change that it can’t be genes, it has to be environmental factors.”
An example of this is a study is in Australia where Chinese children in Sydney were compared with Chinese children in Singapore; the Australia-based kids had less eye problems than those in Singapore.
As professor Rose added, “Myopia has nothing to do with ethnicity and has everything to do with lifestyle. The condition causes the eyes to continue to grow, causing them to become too long from front to back. It means light doesn’t reach the light sensitive tissue, the retina, at the back of the eye.”
Myopia affects roughly 20 percent of Australians, while in the UK approximately one in three people are short-sighted. That number stands at a round 24 percent in America.
As Padmaja Sankaridurg, head of the myopia programme at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, warned, “We are going down the path of having a myopia epidemic,” echoing the sentiments of Rose, who added, “A lot of this is anecdotal, it’s coming from the ophthalmologists who are becoming more concerned about the rise of myopia in young children.”