Eye health ‘time bomb’ as kids stay indoors, increase screen exposure

by Louise Merrillees

Children are at risk of developing short-sightedness as screen time cuts into outdoor playtime, reducing their exposure to outside light, a study has found.

Edith Cowan University Medical Sciences professor Wei Wang co-authored a recent study of nearly 5,000 Year 11 and 12 students in Beijing and found the levels of myopia were more than 80 per cent.

He said while in China there are lower levels of natural light and a highly competitive academic culture which kept children indoors, the study had a bearing on Australian kids as well.

“The outside, natural environment is really important for your eyes, the brightness and also the long distance, the colours, nature relaxes your eye,” he said.

Nature Play WA chief executive Griffin Longley said the increase in rates of myopia in young people was alarming.

“Research out by Telstra earlier this year found that 64 per cent of children from the ages of three to 17 owned a smartphone, and that they spent an average of 23 hours a week on that device,” he said.

“Given that kids are only awake for 12 hours a day, you are talking about two days out of seven, waking hours, spent on a smartphone.

“Add to that home-based screens, and you are starting to clock up some amazing hours, and it is no surprise that is having an impact on something as fundamental as our eyesight.”

Read the full story at ABC News

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