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An increasingly short sighted world

November 12, 2019

Many will remember our mum or dad shouting at us as kids " if you sit too close to the TV, you will go blind!" Nowadays I am the one constantly telling my kids to sit further away from the PC or to stop holding their phones so close to their face.... because as it turns out, mum and dad were right.


Myopia or shortsightedness is on the rise and estimated to affect >50% of the population by 2050. While it may not seem like a big concern to have to wear glasses or contact lenses, the increased need for people to have eye exams, visit optometrists and ophthalmologists and wear optical aids does have major impacts on the health system, productivity and the economy. 


More concerning though is also the rise in high myopia or more than > 5 diopters or points of correction. People who develop high myopia end up with abnormally shaped or egg like eyeballs and thinner retinas. These abnormalities lead to an increased risk of diseases such as retinal degeneration or myopic degeneration of the macula, both of which can cause blindness. People with high myopia also have significantly worse quality of life and have poorer socioeconomic prospects.


The main risk factors for myopia are thought to be genetics, near work and lack of time spent outdoors.  So you might have heard of two current "rules" for reducing the risk of myopia. One is " green time should equal screen time" i.e. spend more time outdoors instead of cooped inside looking at your computer or phone. The other is  the "20-20-20" rule which means that every 20 minutes you should look away from your computer for 20 seconds at an object 20 feet away to stop eyestrain. 


So mum and dad were right about the TV.... I wonder what else they were right about? :)



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