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Computer Age May Be Increasing Number of Nearsighted Americans

Computer Age May Be Increasing Number of Nearsighted Americans

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The computer age may be creating a drastic rise in the number of nearsighted Americans. A study by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found 41 percent of Americans now suffer from nearsightedness, also known as myopia, compared to 25 percent in the 1970s.

The NEI study didn't look for a cause of increased myopia, but some eye experts think the blame may rest with the indoor-centered culture that began with the spread of personal computers and video games in the 1980s and led to near abandonment of outdoor activities by many Americans.

Too Much Time Indoors May Lead to Nearsightedness

Quite simply, experts think young Americans' eyes don't get enough outdoor exercise, so they don't develop good distance vision. According to Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor, since myopia is an inherited trait, succeeding generations of indoor-centered people will be increasingly nearsighted.

While the obvious culprits include computers, video games, and televisions, cell phones may also contribute, because of the increasing use of text messaging and other online functions.

Dr. Roy Chuck, chairman of ophthalmology at Montefoire Medical Center in New York, said that, as Americans increasingly work and play at short range, they need to engage in outdoor activities to stimulate distance vision.

Annual Cost of Myopia Treatment Estimated in Billions

Study author Susan Vitale of the National Eye Institute, said that, while myopia is easily treated, the annual cost of treating 40 to 50 million affected Americans is about $2 to $3 billion.

If you suffer from myopia, an experienced eye surgeon can help. While many people are satisfied with the vision correction offered by glasses or contact lenses, others find them uncomfortable, inconvenient, or, in some cases, inadequate to provide satisfactory correction. If you are one of those people, ask your eye surgeon about the benefits of refractive surgery, such as LASIK or PRK. For many patients, these surgeries can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for glasses or contacts.

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