What do the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS News, Fox5DC and NPR all have in common? Each of these major news organizations has produced stories in the past months about the alarming health effects that increased screen-time and reduced outdoor play are having on children growing up in America.
We curated the stories below for parents of young kids to read and share. Each probes into the evidence and the science behind the myopia epidemic, its likely mix of causes and its ultimate health implications for our kids. A common theme running through the reports is that the increased time spent on screens by our youngsters combined with the reduced time spent playing outdoors is doing serious long-term damage to our children’s vision health.
As you read the reports, we urge you to keep in mind two things. First, it’s never too late to rethink how much time our kids spend on screens and outdoors. Second, if your child is already myopic, there’s finally something you can do besides just correct their nearsightedness with glasses.
Myopia control is becoming the new standard of care. The treatment methods – atropine drops, ortho-K (night-time lenses) and multi-focal daytime lenses – are the new tools available to us today to slow and even stop myopia’s progression in your child’s eyes.
The New York Times
The headline says it all from this article in the Sunday New York Times earlier this winter – “for better vision, let the sunshine in”. The piece includes a quote from a leading research scientist saying, “there is definitely something in modern-day childhood that is triggering a massive rise in the number of people with myopia. And a lack of time outdoors certainly appears to be contributing.”
In this report from CBS News, we read once again of scientists suggesting that, “[the] hypothesis is that kids today are spending too much time indoors looking at screens and not enough time outside.” One scientist explains how reduced levels of dopamine, which is stimulated by sunshine, could be contributing to the myopia epidemic in our screen-focused, indoor-bound kids.
The headline cuts directly to the heart of the matter in this Washington Post health section feature – “the world’s myopia crisis and why children should spend more time outdoors.” The piece notes that nearsightedness has often been considered “a minor inconvenience for many people in today’s modern world. But for some it can lead to more serious eye disease, such as cataracts or retinal detachment.”
This recent NPR report discusses the impact of screen-time on children’s growing brains. The article quote a research scientist explaining their study’s results, “Overall, the results add to the evidence that parents should be very cautious about screen time for young children. I would minimize it.”
In this piece by local Fox5 reporter Laura Evans covering the new standard of care as practiced at Treehouse Eyes, we learn that, even outpacing the global myopia epidemic, the incidence of myopia is literally skyrocketing in the DC area. As her opening says, “There is a new epidemic hitting kids right in the eye and it may be a symptom of all that screen time.”