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Is Reading Bad for Your Eyesight?

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Myopia or short-sightedness means that an individual can easily view things that are close up. However, he has trouble seeing distant objects, such as the menu board in a restaurant. People dealing with this condition require glasses or contact lenses to correct their double or blurry vision.

This solves the problem but does not take care of the root cause behind the defect. Medical researchers and scientists have been working hard to understand the relationship between reading and its effect on eyesight on children and adults. Areas of research also involve why some children develop shortsightedness while others don’t, regardless of how much they read.

New Discoveries about Effects of Reading

Recently, experts have warned thousands or possibly millions of children of developing shortsightedness if they read excessively. There is a particular variant of the gene, known as APLP2, which can lead to myopia if children who carry this variant read for more than an hour a day.

It is believed that almost 1% of the population may have the specific gene variant. This implies that thousands of children in the US and the UK who are fond of reading are likely to develop myopia. This eye defect is usually caused by growth of the eyeball which makes it longer from front to back.

Medical scientists have uncovered the cause of myopia for several decades. This condition is caused by the interaction of genes with external factors, including reading. However, this is the first time evidence has been found that clearly establishes a link between reading and myopia in children. Researchers also discovered that children who have this gene variant but don’t read much are at no extra risk of developing myopia.

However, experts based in the UK, who weren’t involved in the aforementioned study, believe that the actual cause of this may not be reading but spending less time outdoors. According to a few British laser eye surgeons, the problem is not directly related to the action of reading but the absence of daylight, since a large part of studying and reading is usually done indoors.

Nonetheless, children in elementary and middle school face the highest risk of developing myopia. This means that children must spend at least two hours outdoors every day to receive sufficient amounts of daylight to avoid any negative effects on their eyesight.

What You Should Do

It is important to know that preventing myopia does not just benefit by eliminating the need for vision correction methods but also keeps several major blinding eye conditions later in life. Myopia is known to increase the risk of developing retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts in old age. All these conditions can lead to blindness.

Since this particular gene, APLP2, is only found in 1% of the population, extensive research work is required before there are any concrete genetic treatments for myopia. It is best to help children to encourage them to spend as much time as outdoors and on other activities so they can prevent any negative effects of reading on their eyesight.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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