This past Sunday, the New York Times published an article highlighting research linking the myopia epidemic to the lack of outdoor time and sunlight for our kids. If you missed the piece, here’s a link.
Citing the growing body of findings, the piece notes “the prevalence of myopia … in Americans has soared by 66% since the early 1970s”. As we have seen in previous studies on myopia, the article explores the apparent connection between two troubling trends among American young – the increase in time spent on screens and the corresponding lack of time outdoors.
As the article notes, “while some experts connect the elevated rates of myopia to the many hours young people stare at computers and other screens … a recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology suggests that a greater factor may be a side effect of all that screen-watching — it’s keeping children inside. This new study joins a growing body of research indicating that a lack of direct sunlight may reshape the human eye and impair vision.”
This new research is interesting for several reasons. First, its considerable sample size of 3,100 older European men and women who were interviewed. Second, based is its methodology of collecting participants’ biographical and health data and cross-referencing it with, “historical data about sunlight, originally compiled for research on skin cancer and other conditions.”
As the piece notes – “strong correlations were found between current eyesight and volunteers’ lifetime exposure to sunlight. …Those who had gotten the most sun … were about 25 percent less likely to have developed myopia by middle age.”
One of the study’s authors claims, “there must be something in sunlight that affects how the eye grows, especially in childhood. 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.”