Dutch research: Smartphones to blame for near-sightedness in children
According to research by the Dutch hospital Erasmus MC, using a smartphone or tablet lead to a considerable number of 13-year olds in their study developing near-sightedness.
Shocking Dutch research results
The research undertaken by Erasmus MC, called Generation R, began in 2001 and follows around 10.000 children in Rotterdam. From the age of six, children participate in tests and check-ups, which track their growth and development.
These children are now 13 and will be a part of the research until they are 18. At the age of six, 2,5 percent of Generation R children had trouble seeing objects in the distance clearly. When the children reached nine years old, this percentage increased to 12,5 percent.
Now, at the age of 13, 25 percent of the children participating in the study have developed near-sightedness. And although the research only follows children from Rotterdam, the researchers believe that the figures are representative of children all over the Netherlands.
The increase in near-sightedness has been a trend for a while, however, these results are shocking. It is forecasted that, at the age of 21, 50 percent of Generation R will suffer from near-sightedness. This also puts them at greater risk of becoming partially sighted later on in life.
Smartphones and tablets to blame?
According to the researchers, tablets and smartphones are to blame for the deterioration in eyesight amongst the children. These devices are namely an extra risk factor, as children spend a great amount of time looking at something that is close by and the eye develops in accordance.
An eye that spends a considerable amount of time focussing on objects close by but not far away develops myopia, or near-sightedness. To prevent eyesight problems, Erasmus MC advises spending less time looking at a screen and ideally adhere to the 20-20-2 rule.
This rule entails a break for children after 20 minutes of reading a book or looking at a screen, in which they look at least 20 metres into the distance and relax. The “2” stands for playing outside for at least two hours a day, as daylight is good for your eyes.
The risk of developing near-sightedness as a result of mainly focussing on objects close by holds true for children up until they are 21 years old.