Dr. Stewart Shofner Shares a New Study That May Reduce Myopia (Nearsightedness) in Kids
Renowned Eye Surgeon, Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center is a strong believer that our kids are our future. "It's important for medical professionals and parents to protect our children's health and vision," says Dr. Shofner. There has been an ongoing trend of increasing numbers of children becoming nearsighted (aka myopia). Researchers claim over 47 million Americans age 20 and over are nearsighted and will continue to rise unless preventive measures are taken.
Research was recently conducted in China has been released that further supports the theory that spending time outdoors may help slow down the development of nearsightedness. The study from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly 40 percent of 6-year-old children who did not spend extra time outside developed myopia. In another group of kids who spent 40 additional minutes outdoors each day, researchers found only 30 percent developed myopia. Those who spent more time outside also had less severe prescriptions.
"As a parent, I've always encouraged my kids to play outdoors and this new study confirms that it's important to improving eye health," says Dr. Shofner. It's important for children (and adults) to always wear UV protected sunglasses while outdoors, even for a short amount of time.
Dr. Shofner agrees with other industry professionals that believe by limiting the use of electronic devices may also reduce children's risk of developing myopia, as well as dry eye issues. He suggests that over time, continuous staring at electronic objects up close may decrease a child's ability to focus on distant objects. "I recommend kids and adults should take a break every 20 minutes, focus on distance objects for at least 5-10 minutes before returning to their up-close electronic screens," says Dr. Shofner.
What is Myopia?
Myopia, also known as near-sightedness and short-sightedness, is a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in front of it, causing the image that one sees when looking at a distant object to be out of focus, but in focus when looking at a close object.
Eye care professionals most commonly correct myopia through the use of contact lenses or glasses. Myopia may also be corrected with refractive surgery such as LASIK (Laser in situ keratomileusis). LASIK, is an outpatient surgical procedure used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. With LASIK, an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) will use a laser to reshape the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) to improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina.