Following alarming statistics regarding the percentage of children and young adults who have developed myopia, researchers are being prompted to delve deeper into the condition to investigate correlations that may indicate why so many young people are becoming affected by it. The focus comes on the heels of a report published in Nature, a scientific journal, detailing rises in numbers which could soon become an 'epidemic.'
Myopia, or more commonly known as short sightedness, is a condition that affects the eye and its ability to focus light on the retina. Instead of correctly allowing light to focus on the retina itself, it instead focuses in front of it, causing objects at distance to become blurry but in correct focus when close up. The word myopia derives from the phrase 'trying to see like a mole' through Ancient Greek, and refers to the animals poor visual abilities.
Common treatments for myopia include corrective lenses through glasses or contact lenses, or more invasively via refractive surgery.
The report highlights Eastern Asia as being of particular concern, with a staggering 90% of teenagers and young adults affected. One particular research project in 2007 from Ohio State University showed a direct correlation between a child's activities outdoors in sunlight and improved vision, leading to the thought process that bright, natural sunlight had a protective influence on a child's eyesight by stimulating the release of dopamine in the retina which stopped the eye from elongating during physical development. Concerns are that this growing problem might well be linked to the long documented belief that increased use of the eyes for reading, and of course studying, during a child's early growth years can cause development issues in later life.
In today's educational facilities, it is estimated that children absorb roughly 1/20th and sometimes less, of the require light volumes to protect their eyes inline with the 2007 study.