The rise in myopia worries parents and experts. Find out the reasons.
Have you ever noticed that more kids are wearing glasses than ten, twenty years ago and wondering why?
Although 34% of Brazil’s population has never seen an ophthalmologist, according to a 2019 Ibope survey, pediatricians are now more likely to refer children for regular eye examinations than decades ago, which increased the number of children initially diagnosed with the disease. Vision problems and, consequently, glasses.
However, there may be another reason: Studies show that the rate of children with myopia is increasing worldwide.
Myopia, a visual disorder characterized by a “long” eyeball that forms an image before light reaches the retina, has genetic and environmental factors. Children of far-sighted parents are at greater risk of problems.
However, the reasons for the increase seem to be related to environmental and modern lifestyle changes.
The problem is so alarming that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, half the world’s population will be myopic. But what is the reason for this increase? Is it possible to stop?
The incidence of myopia is increasing worldwide, especially in East Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. Not surprisingly, most of the research on increasing the rate of myopia cases was conducted in these countries.
Studies show that the prevalence of myopia in East Asian countries is 80% -90%, while in Western countries the rate is just below 30%.
As this difference is explained by the researchers The fruit of the culture of Asian countriesWhose children spend a lot of time in study activities, indoors.
Several studies have shown that a decrease in exposure to natural light is an important factor in the increase in myopia cases. Despite the cultural differences between the western and eastern countries, the lifestyle of children in different cities is similar.
In addition to long hours at school, a lack of security and a more inviting environment for outdoor activities force children to spend more time indoors. Added to this is the increasing frequent use of electronic devices, which keeps young people away from working in the open.
“Exposure to sunlight, not direct sunlight, but daylight is believed to stimulate the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward and pleasure process and promotes healthy eye growth,” explained pediatrician and sanitary doctor Dr. Daniel Baker.
In addition to the lack of sunlight, another factor that seems to be related to the increase in myopia cases is the lack of distance vision stimulation. “The lack of eye focus fixation over short and long distances seems to be detrimental,” he said. Unemployed.
“Watching too closely, like when we are in front of a cell phone, is bad for eye development. Self-study is not a problem, you can study for a few hours a day, but you have to come in contact with the open air, natural light, “said Dr. Andre Jean is a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Brazilian Institute of Ophthalmology (Ebola) in Rio de Janeiro.
Thus, the outdoor environment, in addition to providing exposure to natural light, allows us to get a broader view of the horizon.
See also: Children, adolescents and the abundance of the screen
Use of screen
Although it is not yet possible to establish a causal relationship between excessive use of the screen and an increase in myopia cases, there are studies showing a relationship between the two. One Meta-analysis published in “The Lancet” Suggests that exposure to electronic devices may be associated with myopia.
However, experts and medical organizations around the world have warned about this The disadvantage is that excessive use of this equipment May affect the health and socialization of children, especially young children.
To limit its use, it is recommended by the WHO and other Brazilian and international medical organizations.
“My 12-year-old daughter started having problems watching television during the epidemic. Three years ago, I took her to the eye doctor for regular checkups, and she had no vision problems. I can’t say the epidemic was responsible, but my daughter developed myopia during the breakup, “said Rosa, a preacher and mother of two.
An article in the journal “Clothing ophthalmologySaid that 2020 was the “year of quarantine myopia”. The problem has nothing to do with the virus. Covid-19At least not directly, but strict captivity has been imposed, especially in Asian countries.
The article quotes a Study Conducted by US and Chinese researchers, the incidence of myopia among children aged 6-8 years increased 1.4- to 3-fold in 2020, compared to five years ago.
According to the authors, the problem is not seen in older children, it is unlikely that it is due to the increase in screen usage, because older children spend more time in online activities. According to the researchers, the probable cause of the increase was a decrease in exposure to sunlight, a factor that has already been linked to myopia.
Others Study, Conducted in Hong Kong, also showed an increase in the number of myopia cases during the epidemic. According to the researchers, at the same time, the time of exposure to the screen increased significantly and the time of exposure to natural light in children decreased.
Myopia can increase the risk of retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and more severe cases of blindness. Complications related to the disease represent a high social and economic cost, especially in poor countries.
Researchers claim that interventions aimed at increasing the endurance of children in the environment with natural light can reduce myopia propensity by about 50% and reduce the progression of the disorder in already myopic children by 32.9%. “Natural light helps control the progression of myopia,” he said. Gene.
One Study Two schools in Taiwan have shown the importance of light in reducing myopia cases. Students at one school were encouraged to spend 80 minutes outside each day, while students at other schools in the area did not engage in outdoor activities. One year later, 8% of children were diagnosed with myopia in the first school, compared to 18% in the second school.
According to researchers, 3 hours a day helps reduce the risk of myopia. In Australia, a country with a lower incidence of myopia: 4.5% of young people aged 0 to 14, according to the Australian Health System.
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