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Near-sightedness among teens surges to epidemic levels

2024.04.09 22:36:47 Hanna Yein Cho

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Recently, according to the Ophthalmology Center Barcelona, the surge in screen time among teenagers has led to an alarming increase in near-sightedness, reaching epidemic proportions globally.


The study shows that 47% of young people were affected by a visual disorder that affects distance vision called myopia.


Technology has become more prevalent in current-day society, making it easier for teenagers to become addicted to their phones.


Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, internet addiction reached a staggering 88.1%, with 24.8% having mild addiction, 59.6% with moderate addiction and 3.6% with severe addiction.


Due to schools transitioning to virtual platforms, social interaction on the phones, screen usage has naturally increased.


In fact, according to the Harmony Healthcare It, the average screen time Gen Z population spent was 6 hours equivalent to spending around 12 years staring at their phone over their lifespan.


Due to the excessive screen time, there has been a so-called “blindness epidemic” amongst teenagers.


For young children whose eyes are still developing, prolonged screen time can cause their eyes to prioritize near vision rather than distance vision, causing myopia.


In the United Kingdom, there was an increase of 46% of short sightedness over the last three decades.


Meanwhile, in the US, a study from California concluded that there was a rise of 59%


Furthermore, Dr. Jorgensen, who owns eight eye clinics in China, has seen an increase of short slightness from 30% to 95%.


Although some genetic factors can influence bad eyesight, one of the main factors of this problem is the fact that they spend the majority of their time indoors.


In fact, a research commissioned by the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition found out that 52 percent of children today play outside less than their parents did when they were young.


For teenagers, whose bodies are still growing and developing, it is even more important to get exposed to sunlight.


Absorbing ultraviolet light from the sun helps the body produces vitamin D which aids with bone development, disease prevention and a health nervous system


Sunlight also boosts serotonin which is linked to brain function, increasing mood and happiness.


Furthermore, sunlight can actually increase dopamine levels which helps with tuning visions during daylight.


However, staying indoors with the screen phones close to the eyes can negatively impact eye health and development, leading to long-term problems.


Moreover, the World Health Organization predicted that by 2030, 40% of the world’s population would become nearsighted, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the issue of screen time addiction and how to prevent it.


First and foremost, reducing screen time to less than 2 hours for teens is crucial.


Reducing screen time can not only help prevent near-sightness but can also help with insomnia, mental health, and even help with posture.


Other preventative measures include not reading in dim light, wearing sunglasses when going out, taking screen breaks to stretch eye muscles and taking regular eye exams.


By implementing these measures, teenagers can reduce their risks of getting myopia and put an end to the blindness epidemic.

Hanna Yein Cho / Grade 10
Yongsan International School of Seoul