Self | Health
Why Everyone Needs Glasses These Days (It Isn’t Just Screens)
How to correct for a health problem that sits at the foot of urbanization.
It started in 9th grade. I was in geometry class and those linear equation graphs were on the projector.
The screen was blurry so I raised my hand and asked, “Can you adjust the projector? I can’t read it.” Several students turned around and stared at me. That’s when I knew.
It was only the beginning of an increasingly common eye problem. One hospital in Guangzhou had the largest eye center in China, and still had to build an additional unit for the avalanche of young people with near-sightedness — also known as myopia. And it isn’t just screens causing the problem.
The origins of our new problem
For decades, scientists were convinced that vision problems were purely genetic. Either you had it or you didn’t.
That’s still the case to some extent. If one parent is nearsighted, your odds of developing myopia increase by 2x. If two parents are nearsighted, your odds increase by 4x. Yet it’s believed our ancestors had far fewer eye problems.
Only 25% of people were myopic in 1971. By 2004 it was up to 42%. And with the current trend, around half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.
Our eyeballs are nearly 70% of their adult size at birth and are typically shaped like a basketball. As we grow, the eye elongates from front to back.
Dopamine is released in the retina when you’re exposed to sunlight. This helps regulate eye growth — especially during adolescence. When you spend significantly more time indoors, your eyes don’t know when to start or stop growing, and this contributes to myopia.
This coincides with my own experience. I was one of the many boys who was infatuated with video games.
One of my friends started out as farsighted, but as he started playing more games he became nearsighted (and for the…