Q&A: Are our phones and books hurting our eyesight?

Fifty percent of the world’s population may suffer from nearsightedness, or myopia, by the year 2050 according to a recent study authored in part by researcher Kovin Naidoo. Naidoo believes a change in our daily environments is driving this change. “Society has moved from a rural to a predominantly urban environment and from spending time outdoors to relying on indoor activities such as reading, computer games, TV, video games and mobile phones,” he said.


But a rise in nearsightedness is not inevitable. Evidence suggests spending as little as two hours outdoors may provide children protection from nearsightedness. According to Dr. Jennifer Galvin, director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Yale School of Medicine, in some circumstances preventative drugs should be considered. “Recent studies published in Ophthalmology reported how pharmacological intervention, such as treatment with dilute Atropine eye drops, can slow the progression of myopia for children.”


Naidoo stressed that the discovery should not prevent children from participating in indoor activities completely, rather it should encourage a more well-rounded lifestyle. “Time indoors needs to be counter balanced with appropriate time outdoors,” said Naidoo.