Monday, Apr 21, 2014
Smartphones Linked to Nearsightedness
MARION -- Many children and young adults spend a lot of time staring at phones or tablets. A recent study in England indicates all that screen time could be causing vision problems.
It's the constant use of smartphones and tablets for long periods of time. Mix that with how close they're held, researchers say that could be causing nearsightedness in young people.
Aaron, an eighth grader at Carbondale New School, spends at least two hours a day texting and playing games on his phone.
"If I've been on it awhile, and I've been sitting down and I get up, my vision will go all weird for a second," he says.
Aaron says he had that problem before getting his phone almost a year ago.
"It usually only just happens when I'm reading or on the phone," he says.
His classmate Robin uses his smartphone for mainly texting.
"I've googled at like a restaurant nearby or something like that," says Robin.
So far he hasn't noticed a problem.
Researchers say most people hold their cell phones about 8 inches away, if not closer, causing eye strain after long periods of time.
"The prevention solution is not to use the smartphone as much, so you have less strain on your eyes," say Dr. Robert Kippenbrock.
Kippenbrock is an optomestrist at Marion Eye Center. He says in the last 15 to 20 years, it's been a trend to have more children and young people become nearsighted than in the past. There's speculation that there's a gene that is activated with close up work. At around age 21 it's supposed to be turned off naturally.
"With more use of the smartphones and the computers, that gene is staying active," says Kippenbrock.
Causing more people in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s to be nearsighted.
"There's more kids who have been diagnosed with nearsightedness after they're done with college," says Kippenbrock.
Since smartphones were introduced in 1997, researchers say there's been a 35% increase in the diagnosis. And because it's all speculation at this point, both boys aren't convinced the phones will be a problem. But they don't want to take any risks.
"It's not worth it to just be able to do a text conversation if it causes damage to your eyes and destroys your lifestyle," says Robin.
Dr. Kippenbrock encourages holding your phone at least 14 inches away when you're using it. He nearsightedness can also be corrected with contact lenses and lasik eye surgery.
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