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Parents around the world have fretted over the effects of excessive screen time on their children’s eyesight, but a recent study offers some reassurance. Contrary to popular belief, mobile phone use does not contribute to the global myopia epidemic, according to researchers from The University of WA. However, the study uncovered a surprising culprit: computer screens.
The study, conducted on 600 young adults as part of the Perth-based Raine Study, found that individuals who spent six or more hours per day on a computer experienced a faster deterioration in their short-sightedness compared to those with low computer use. This finding supports the notion of a direct correlation between computer usage and myopia.
Dr. Samantha Sze-Yee Lee, a senior research fellow from the Lions Eye Institute, explains the phenomenon behind this disparity. When we look at our mobile phones, everything in our peripheral vision, except for the small phone screen, appears further away and slightly blurred. As a result, our brain registers that things are generally far away, eliminating the need for the eye to become more short-sighted. However, when we focus on a large screen like a desktop computer, more of our peripheral vision is occupied by the screen. Our brain interprets this as engaging in short-distance work and triggers the eyes to become more short-sighted.
The prevalence of myopia has been on the rise globally, with a three-point increase to 40% in just two years, according to Optometry Australia’s latest Vision Index. The index also predicts that more than half of the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated concerns about eye health, with 42% of respondents reporting increased screen time. This alarming trend underscores the importance of understanding the risk factors associated with myopia.
Myopia can lead to various eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retina problems, making it crucial to identify effective strategies for managing computer use’s detrimental effects on eyesight. Dr. Lee hopes that these findings will pave the way for the development of innovative solutions to mitigate the impact of excessive computer screen exposure.
Q: Does mobile phone use contribute to myopia?
A: No, according to a study conducted by The University of WA, mobile phone use does not contribute to the myopia epidemic.
Q: What is the primary cause of myopia?
A: The study suggests that excessive computer screen usage is the main cause of the myopia epidemic.
Q: Why do computer screens affect myopia more than mobile phone screens?
A: The phenomenon called “peripheral de-focus” explains this difference. When looking at a mobile phone, the blurred periphery signals to the brain that objects are generally far away, reducing the eye’s need for increased myopia. However, when using a desktop computer, the screen occupies more of our peripheral vision, leading the brain to perceive short-distance work and triggering more myopia.