Is my myopia serious

Day of glasses: poor eyesight increases in lockdown

It scratches, it pinches, it itches. Letters start to blur on the screen. Increasing myopia is to blame for the complaints - because lockdowns, home offices, distance learning and constant meetings via teams or zoom often leave us staring at screens for hours and hours.

Instead of releasing the stress outdoors after work, we end up in front of the television screen again in times of pandemic. A 24-hour show of strength for the eyes.

Widespread disease myopia

So it is not surprising that we are beginning to see worse and worse. Studies from China and the Netherlands show that as a result of the corona measures, especially in children, myopia has increased drastically. The phenomenon now has a name: quarantine myopia.

For example, data from China shows that myopia has increased dramatically. 120,000 school children between the ages of six and twelve were included. It is said that myopia was diagnosed up to three times more often in the age group between the ages of six and eight. On average, the sharpness there has developed by around 0.3 diopters towards myopia.

When the foresight is lacking

The permanent focus on objects at close range, the lack of foresight and the artificial light can cause considerable damage even at an early age. It is already decided in early childhood whether or not visual aids will be necessary in the long term.

The rule is: once you are short-sighted, you stay that way. This nearsightedness usually begins at elementary school age and increases over the years. In most cases, the earlier it starts, the stronger it gets.

If the eyeball grows vigorously between the ages of six and ten years, this means the loss of visual acuity in the far range. Severe myopia also increases the risk of retinal detachment, as well as cataracts due to increased intraocular pressure or subsequent blindness, experts say.

The number of nearsighted people is growing rapidly, especially in industrialized countries. This has to do with the changed living conditions, as in these countries significantly less time is spent outdoors and far-sightedness is less trained. All the more we dedicate ourselves to constantly staring at various screens - be it the computer, tablet, smartphone or television.

Glasses as an innovation driver

"Solutions against the widespread disease of myopia are one of the biggest drivers of innovation in the industry," says Markus Gschweidl, Federal Guild Master for Eye and Contact Lens Opticians. The progressive myopia in children is a worrying phenomenon. It is expected that around 56 percent of people in Europe will be nearsighted by 2050.

That is why we are increasingly working on solutions worldwide. For example, spectacle lenses that not only correct ametropia, but also counteract the increasing myopia, have been new on the Austrian market since April. According to a two-year clinical study, they slow the progression of myopia in children ages eight to thirteen by an average of 60 percent.

"If myopia reaches a value of six diopters, it can cause serious problems in old age, such as retinal detachment or macular degeneration," says Gschweidl.

For this reason, the development of solutions for myopic children is not a purely cosmetic problem, but should prevent much worse, he explains. A lot of innovation can therefore be expected in the next few years, especially when it comes to glasses lenses for everyday digital use.

Take countermeasures in good time

There are an above-average number of short-sighted children and young people in Asia. In individual Asian countries, the rate is 95 percent. It is believed that four out of five children in China now have myopia. But in Europe too, around half of young adults are nearsighted. But how can you counteract this?

To prevent nearsightedness, one should spend at least two hours a day outdoors from early childhood. In everyday life, you shouldn't stare too long at an object close up - it doesn't matter whether it's a tablet or a book. It is important to keep the distance and regularly look up at objects in the vicinity. Because that leads to the fact that the eye leaves the close range and the gaze is also directed to the distance in between.

However, it is of course essential for the eye to be outdoors, as daylight inhibits the further growth of the eyeball. Scandinavian studies show that myopia increases in the dark season, while it stagnates in the light season.

Let your gaze wander

Especially with small children up to three years of age, doctors appeal to parents to drastically reduce the daily use of electronic devices. It is said that children up to six years of age should not use it for more than thirty minutes a day. Tip to everyone, including adults: look up from the screen more often, let your gaze wander into the distance, spend more time outdoors - fortunately, this is still feasible in lockdown. (Julia Palmai, April 23, 2021)