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TV, cellphones leading causes of vision loss—study

/ 02:34 PM February 16, 2016

ISLAMABAD—Half of the world’s population (nearly 5 billion) will be short-sighted (myopic) by 2050, and one fifth (1 billion) of them will be at the risk of blindness, thanks to excessive television viewing, use of cellphones and lack of outdoor activities.

This was revealed in a joint study conducted by Australian-based Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales Australia and Singapore Eye Research Institute.

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Director of South East Asia and Eastern Mediterranean Region institute Sumrana Yasmin while talking to Dawn said that findings of the study will apply to Pakistan as well.

“The distant vision impairment is continuously increasing in the country,” public health person Yasmin said, adding parents should test their children’s eyesight at least once in a year to keep a check on the disease.

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“Moreover, children should be involved in outdoor activities as they spend most of their time playing video games on computers or cell phones due to which their eyes remain focused on them and with the passage of time their long distance vision gets affected,” she said.

“A number of children stop performing in the classrooms, which is a major sign of myopia as they cannot see the blackboard from a distance. So instead of being strict with them and thinking that the child is not taking interest in education, parents should take their children to an eye specialist,” she said.

“Parents should regularly take their children to amusement parks because outdoor activities are better for their health. Moreover, the curriculum should include such topics which raise awareness about vision impairment among children and their parents,” Ms Yasmin said.

According to the study, one in every 10 children is at the risk blindness and myopia is becoming a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide. Parents are advised to have children’s eyes checked regularly, improve time outdoors and moderate time on near based activities including electronic devices.

It is further stated that the number with vision loss from high myopia is expected to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050.

The rapid increase in the prevalence of myopia globally is attributed to, “environmental factors, principally lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors and increased near work activities, among other factors,” says the study.

“We also need to ensure our children receive a regular eye examination from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, preferably each year, so that preventative strategies can be employed if they are at risk,” said co-author Professor Kovin Naidoo, CEO of Brien Holden Vision Institute.

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“Furthermore there are other options such as specially designed spectacle lenses and contact lenses or drug interventions but increased investment in research is needed to improve the efficacy and access of such interventions,” says the study.

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TOPICS: Blidness, Cellphones, Eyesight, Myopia, Public Health, technology, Television, Vision Loss
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