Nearsightedness is Increasing

The number of people who are becoming nearsighted is increasing.

Courtesy of WIRED

The number of people who are becoming nearsighted is increasing.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

Nearsightedness is not uncommon among teens and children. This is often associated with genetics and the increase in the amount of time that people spend on screens, but there is another factor that has contributed to the increase in people who are nearsighted. A person’s lifestyle impacts their vision more than they might think.

People in the past did not have electronic devices that are commonly known to be harmful to a person’s vision, but they did spend a lot of time reading, which can be compared to the usage of modern electronic devices. Most people don’t spend a lot of time outside and this can lead to a greater chance of being nearsighted. Teens often spend about as much time outside as Celina Fang (9) who only spends time outside during “break, lunch, and P.E.” Teens spend most of their time inside while at school and when they are not at school or studying, they are likely doing something else inside. Outdoor sports require students who participate in them to spend more time outside, but in most cases, the amount of time students spend outdoors seems to be less than what people spent in the past.

An increasing number of young children have become nearsighted because of this. Many of these children’s parents became nearsighted when they were already adults, but more of their children often become nearsighted before they are even ten. This is because their children don’t have enough exposure to sunlight. Research shows that if people spend time participating in outdoor activities than their chances of having a better vision is greater, and it is also less likely to be negatively affected by exposure to screens, reading, and other activities that are considered to be eye-straining. The reasons for why exposure to outdoor activities helps a person’s vision is unclear, but there are multiple theories for why this is true. The main theory is that natural light that comes from the sun causes a release of dopamine from cells located in the retina. Dopamine encourages normal eye development which can help prevent nearsightedness.

People who want to avoid becoming nearsighted should consider spending additional time outdoors. Experts believe that spending around fourteen hours a week outdoors is enough to help reduce the probability of being nearsighted. Reducing screen exposure can help, but exposure to sunlight is a major factor to be considered when it comes to vision.