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Short-Sightedness Is Becoming More Common, Why?

Posted in: General Health 18 Nov, 2015

If there was a survey about what our most underappreciated body part was, the answer would probably be 'our eyes'. We abuse them; let's not beat around the bush. Unless we're asleep they're used constantly. We peer at tiny phones, don't eat enough good eye-food, and don't see the optician every year.

It's thought one in three Britons are short-sighted; that means we can't see much at a distance, and according to research it's becoming more common. New studies suggest that 5 billion of us worldwide will be short-sighted by 2050. What's causing this avalanche of short-sightedness and will it go even further into blindness?

Hit Me With Some Study Science!

Researchers think that by 2050 there will be an epidemic of myopia (short-sightedness) with a billon people worldwide at risk of blindness. The problem is particularly bad in East Asia, where 80-90% of school leavers in areas of Singapore, Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea are short-sighted.

The Brien Holden Vision Institute wants us to act now to save our eyesight. Professor Kovin Naidoo would like to see three things happen. Public awareness of the threat, researchers to develop solutions, and eye care professionals becoming equipped to manage at-risk patients.

Why Are We Short-Sighted?

  • Technology does us no favours. We spend long periods of time staring at a screen so our eyes dry out and become strained.

  • Vision decreases with age and the world's population is getting on in years.

  • Glasses are cooler now. Witness Jonny Depp in his nerd glasses, not to mention the Harry Potter series making glasses and ginger hair cool for kids (I love you JK). People are more likely to admit they have vision problems and take action.

  • Short-sighted children often have a myopic parent. If both parents are short-sighted then the child's risk in one in two.

Yikes! What Can Help?

You can't go from short-sighted to 20/20 vision without expensive laser surgery, but there are a few things you can try to help slow down vision loss.

  • An optician can prescribe glasses and contacts that slow down myopia.

  • Look away from your screen and into the distance to re-adjust your eyes as often as possible.

  • Takes physical breaks away from the screen, go outside where you will NOT check your texts.

  • Give your eyes a break from the screen light. Pixelated screens, as well as sunlight, may contribute to vision loss. Wear sunglasses and turn off your device to give your eyes a break. Try to get your kids doing it too.

  • Quit smoking. The poison in cigarettes affects every body cell and squinting against smoke harms your eyes.

  • Have regular eye tests so opticians can pick up any issues quickly.

  • Eat dark-green and bright fruit and veggies - yes carrots, but also broccoli, spinach, peppers and tomatoes. They contain antioxidants that help to prevent eye damage.

Here's a thought for today. What would you pay to get your sight back if you lost it? I bet it's more than an eye test, and I bet you'd even give up Twittering too - actually you might have to do that anyway if you can't keep away from the screen.

Protect your eyes - you're not made with a spare set.

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