November 10, 2011
The incidence of nearsightedness has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Researchers think a lack of outdoor activity could be partially responsible.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Seeing better outdoors…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, makes distant objects appear blurry. And over the past few decades, it’s become much more common, especially across the industrialized world. This has left scientists puzzled, since the condition has long been known to run in families. So Cambridge epidemiologist Justin Sherwin and his colleagues analyzed eight studies of myopia that looked at over 10,000 children. They found that kids were 2% less likely to develop myopia for each extra hour they spent outdoors each week.
JUSTIN SHERWIN (University of Cambridge):
We think that there’s certainly environmental factors consistent with the change in lifestyle that have brought about the increase in the rates of myopia. Increased educational pressures, increased city living, and the factors that go alongside that. And that it may be due to a reduction in someone’s time spent outdoors.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.