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quarter 13-year-olds nearsighted by smartphones and tablets

The Erasmus MC in Rotterdam has been monitoring a group of 1000 children for seven years to see what impact the many watching on tablets and smartphones have on their eyes. The results can be guessed, but it is still worrying to see that your first estimate is correct: that is not good.

The group was followed by the researchers from the age of six, and then 2.5 percent was short-sighted. Three years later that was already 12.5 percent and now, at the age of 13, already a quarter is myopic. This is in line with other European research that shows that an incredible 50 percent of 20-year-olds are short-sighted. That percentage was another quarter forty years ago, so that is a very serious increase.

Asia is our foreland in that respect. There, 95 percent of young people are already short-sighted and 15 percent high-sighted. Then you can talk about a major social problem

– Professor of ophthalmology Caroline Klaver

Functional blind

However, it gets even worse: almost one in three children have severe nearsightedness, which means that they have glasses with have a strength of -6 or higher. This can lead to functional blindness, says hooglerlaar ophthalmology Caroline Klaver het Parool . Historically, 5 percent of the Dutch had such a poor view: the prospects are that this will increase to 15 to 20 percent.

Is it really just staring at tablets and smartphones? Not entirely, it turns out. Whether you are looking at a screen or a book, it is both close and that does not help. It is therefore especially important not to sit and stare at something for hours, but also to go out and look at things that are far away. I expressly say outside, because light also makes quite a difference: it has been proven that a lack of light is an important cause for the development of myopia. The research also seems to confirm this: the children with eye problems were less likely to play outside.

What matters is the lifestyle of children. If that does not change, in the future a majority of the population will be nearsighted

– Professor of ophthalmology Caroline Klaver

What can you do?

Playing outside is the motto, preferably two hours a day and of course without electronic devices. This provides enough light and focuses the eyes on things that are further away. In addition, it is recommended to do something else after twenty minutes of playing with a screen, or at least look into the distance.

The consequences of (excessive) screen use have been under discussion for a long time, but the numbers do not lie: it does have an impact on our lives and, as has been proven again, our view. It is no coincidence that more and more companies are building in possibilities to make people aware of how much they actually look at their screen, just like Apple did yesterday during the WWDC keynote and Google previously did with Android. Too much is never good, so you must – especially if it concerns children – keep an eye on it.

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