What will half the World’s population suffer by 2050? And it is preventable.

myopia Prevent myopia

The answer is myopia (short-sightedness). In fact just within the next 14 years the prevalence will have affected half the population in Western Europe. It is a good example of the impact of technological pathology and possibly human error.  The huge increase is not, however, genetic.

In China, 90% of teenagers are myopic and it is already an issue in the UK. It is believed to be due to a lack of bright light – yes being outside in the daylight is good for the children. In fact the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Australia is quite specific. Their trial of Primary 1-3 schoolkids in China demonstrated that they became less myopic after only 40 minutes a day and the outcome is probably dose related.  It had previously been thought the cause was increased intensity of study over the last 150 years.  Well it is but probably due to students being indoors in artificial light rather than the studying of close-to work.  The arrival of extended screen-time must surely be a factor too.  It appears that bright light stimulates the production of retinal dopamine which blocks the axial elongation of the eye – which leads to short-sightedness.  The risk of blindness in the elderly is set to rise four fold so a serious problem needs to be avoided.

So kids, get outside and play. Teachers, please may there also be less homework pressure?! And architects please design schools with plenty of light – preferably not through the appearance of unexpected holes in walls. Ahem.

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