Excess use of electronic gadgets can cause short-sightedness in young people; Study

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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A new study has found the connection between screen time and an increased risk of myopia (short-sightedness) in children and young people.

The open-access research, which is published in The Lancet Digital Health, was undertaken by researchers and eye health experts from Singapore, Australia, China, and the UK, including Professor Rupert Bourne from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The researchers examined more than 3,000 studies that investigates the “smart device usage and, myopia in children and young adults aged between 3 months old and 33 years old.”

After analyzing and statistically combining the available data, the authors discovered that excessive smart device screen time, such as looking at a phone, is related to a 30 percent greater risk of myopia, and that risk rises to roughly 80 percent when combined with excessive computer use.

The research comes as millions of youngsters around the world have spent significant time using remote learning methods following the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Rupert Bourne, Professor of Ophthalmology in the Vision and Eye Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said, “Around half the global population is expected to have myopia by 2050, so it is a health concern that is escalating quickly. Our study is the most comprehensive yet on this issue and shows a potential link between screen time and myopia in young people.”

“This research comes at a time when our children have been spending more time than ever looking at screens for long periods, due to school closures, and it is clear that urgent research is needed to further understand how exposure to digital devices can affect our eyes and vision. We also know that people underestimate their own screen time, so future studies should use objective measures to capture this information,” Prof. Bourne added.

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