New research from the UK has uncovered some of the factors that may contribute to a child's risk of developing myopia by discovering that children born in the summer and those who spend more time playing computer games have a greater risk of developing the disease.
The study, conducted by King's College London, analyzed 1,991 twins with a mean age of 16.7 years and all participated in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) study.
The researchers collected data on demographic, social, economic, educational, and behavioral factors in twin pairs at various points between the ages of two and 16 years in order to analyze the critical stages of child and eye development.
Ophthalmologists were asked to provide information about myopia taken from children's ophthalmic exams, with parents and teachers being asked to complete questionnaires to provide information on other potentially relevant factors.
The results, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, showed that, in general, one in four (26 percent) of the twins were myopic. The mean age at which children with myopia began using glasses to correct the condition was 11.
The researchers also found that the factors most strongly associated with the development of myopia were being born during the summer, the number of hours children spent playing computer games, and the educational level of the mother.
The team explained that since children born in the summer months start school at a younger age than those born in the winter months, they also start close to work early, for example with books, which can speed up eyes, causing lack of vision. More hours playing computer games may also be linked to myopia because of close work, and because more time spent playing indoors means less time outdoors, a factor that has also been associated with an increased risk of myopia.
The results also showed that fertility treatment was associated with a 25 to 30 percent lower risk of developing myopia. The team suggested that because children born as a result of fertility treatment are often born smaller and slightly premature, they may have some level of developmental delay, which can lead to a shorter eye length and less myopia.
Myopia, also known as myopia or farsightedness, is a condition in which the eye can not focus light properly, which means that nearby objects appear clear, but distant objects appear blurred. It can be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses, as well as laser surgery, but it is linked to an increased risk of visual impairment and loss of vision later in life.
The condition is becoming more common, with 4.758 billion people worldwide expected to be affected by 2050, up from 1.950 billion in 2010.
In a related editorial, physicians at the National Vision Center of Singapore, the Center for Eye Research, Melbourne, Australia and the University of Melbourne, pointed out that the study used data collected before the huge growth of digital media, which may also play a role . .
"Increased device screen time (DST) resulting from gaming, social media and digital entertainment has led to increased sedentary behavior, poor diet and lack of outdoor activities," they said. "The misuse and misuse of smart devices, particularly in our pediatric populations, should be closely monitored to address the emerging phenomenon of digital myopia." KM
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