Impact of lifestyle on myopia, how to prevent or reverse myopia
Our life has become fast-paced and stressful, and we have less free time to spend outdoors and pay undivided attention to our family and friends. We are living in the busiest period in history; the speed of life has increased exponentially over the past 100 years, while the evolution of our body, brain, and eyes have not.
While our modern lifestyle provides many advantages, we have constant stimulus from the internet, the news, social media, video games, smartphones, and numerous electronic gadgets. In fact, according to a new study by Nielsen, a market-research company, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to, or simply interacting with media.
Because of this lifestyle change, myopia has become an epidemic in many parts of the world. In addition to the 41.6 percent of Americans who are nearsighted, the myopia rate in young Americans is estimated as high as 60 percent. Projections suggest that almost 50 percent of the world will be myopic by 2050. The May 2016 issue of Ophthalmology published a study called “Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050” 5 where the researchers analyzed data from 145 studies covering 2.1 million participants. They discovered that increases in myopia are driven principally by lifestyle, particularly by the increased time on near-work activities, often electronic devices. More and more schools are adopting digital education systems, making it impossible to limit the electronic devices to balance the child’s school days. As a result, more and more children are wearing glasses.
Electronic devices and the blue light
Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of blue light. However, with the growth of technology, LED screens—computer monitors, smart phones, tablets, and LED TV—are now becoming the number one source of blue light. The 380–420 nm short blue light waves from these devices are harmful to human eyes. According to a NEI-funded study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens. Not all children who do their homework on a PC and tablet develop myopia, but if they do, the blue light from those screens must have played some role in it. Parents and teachers must be aware of the usage and control the children’s total time on screens on a given day. This includes school usage, homework, and games. See here: What are the effect of blue light on our health?
The sedentary lifestyle In the US and around the world, people are spending more and more time doing sedentary activities. Many of us sit in front of the computer at work; sit during our leisure time to watch TV, engage in social media, or games; then we sit more in cars, buses, or flights. The US National Library of Medicine warns that a sedentary lifestyle has many health risks—it causes us to gain weight, waste away muscles, weaken our bones, compromise our immune systems, and have poorer blood circulation. Many chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and even depression are the results of this inactive lifestyle. Although not a disease, myopia as a common type of refractive error is also a byproduct of the modern inactive lifestyle. The data showed that regular physical activity was associated with a lower estimated prevalence of myopia compared to sedentary lifestyles.
To prevent or reverse myopia, we must change our inactive lifestyle right away
Our physical health is not determined by how long we stand or how long we sit, but rather the number of times we alternate positions. She recommends going from a sitting to standing position at least 25 times per day.
Sedentary lifestyle is “a sitting disease.” It is time for us to choose a conscious and healthy lifestyle. Remember our body is one integrated system rather than a collection of independent organs. we need to heal the mind-body-spirit through a new lifestyle that improves the overall wellness of our body.
- Limit TV, electronic devices, and computer usage to as little time as possible.
- Increase time spent outdoors, including physical activities and unstructured play in nature.
- Be more active indoors. Remember to go from a sitting to a standing position at least 25 times per day. To be more active around the house, you can clean your room, make your bed, or just stand up and move around every 20–30 minutes.
- Schedule quality time to connect with family and friends in person with undivided attention instead of connected on social media.