There is an alarming upward trend in myopia, a.k.a. nearsightedness, in the past several years. According to a recent research study, 60 years ago, only 10% to 20% of the Chinese population was nearsighted, today that they are at 90% among teens and young adults. More than 40% of the U.S. population needs prescription eyeglasses to correct nearsightedness, and it’s likely one-third of the entire world’s population could have myopia within 10 years, according to Popular Science.
Researchers who have been searching for an explanation for the sudden uptick in nearsightedness think they’ve found the culprit: The great indoors. A 2007 study looked at 500 children with initially good vision and found, as the Nature report summarizes, that “after five years, one in five of the children had developed myopia, and the only environmental factor that was strongly associated with risk was time spent outdoors.” Then, in 2008, an Australian study produced the same results. After tracking 4,000 children over three years, researchers found that those who were outside less were at a greater risk of myopia.
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