Television blamed for sight defect in children

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Children and young adults are facing an epidemic of short-sightedness because they spend so much time looking at television and playing computer games, scientists warn.

Children and young adults are facing an epidemic of short-sightedness because they spend so much time looking at television and playing computer games, scientists warn.

Their research found that rising levels of myopia do not have a fundamental genetic cause. Instead, a combination of increased time focusing on close objects, allied to stress, is enough to cause long-term changes. "As kids spend more time indoors, on computers or watching telly, [they] are going to become myopic," Ian Morgan of the Australian National University in Canberra said in New Scientist magazine.

Studies in several countries show the rising tide of short-sightedness. Several explanations, including diet and genetics, have been dismissed. Instead, lifestyle is to blame, Dr Morgan suggests. In Sweden, 50 per cent of children aged 12 have myopia; by the time they are 18, forecasters says, more than 70 per cent will by myopic.

Myopia is caused when the eyeball grows too long, causing light to focus in front of the retina. It cannot be cured directly, although it can be corrected by lenses or by laser surgery to remove some of the lens, in effect shortening the eyeball.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind says 12 million Britons are myopic, and 500,000 have "high-degree myopia", which can lead to retinal damage and blindness.

Comments