We are all going blind. Seriously. Most of us now wear glasses not because we are hipsters or just trying to look smart, but because we can’t see a foot in front of us without having to squint.
The science journal Nature looked into this a little more by analyzing statistics in China and discovered that myopia, the inability to see long distances, is an epidemic.
According to the report, up to 90% of teenagers in China are nearsighted. Around 1950, only 10 to 20% of people in China couldn’t see far. Experts estimate that by 2020, 35% of the world will be nearsighted, and if the problem persists, it could lead to cataracts, glaucoma and even blindness later on.
So what’s causing our blurred vision? A popular hypothesis would probably be our technology — looking at computer, phone and tablet screens up close all day. And that’s not too far off actually. The Nature article suggests kids are spending too much time indoors these days. As Esquire sums up:
“In multiple studies, kids who spent more time indoors had a higher risk of developing myopia. And it doesn’t have to do with physical activity, it just has to do with physically being outside and being exposed to bright light. When you’re not exposed to outdoor light very much, it inhibits how your eyes grow.”
Our bad habit of staying indoors and staying glued to our devices and screens is making our eyes weak, rendering them unable to get the exercise through focusing on different objects they need to stay sharp — it’s even more damaging to younger eyes.
What should we do? One myopia researcher in the report, Ian Morgan of the Australian National University in Canberra, estimates that “children need to spend around three hours per day under light levels of at least 10,000 lux to be protected against myopia,” which is the same level of brightness you’d experience if you were sitting under a shaded tree with sunglasses on.
If you agreed with Steve Jobs on why he didn’t allow his kids to play with iPads, then you’d also agree that all of us, especially our children, could use more time playing outside.
But hey, sometimes getting the time to enjoy the outdoors is a luxury that work doesn’t allow for our eyes, so here are four ways you can protect your eyes if you have to look at computer screens all day.