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December 16, 2009

No Proof in ABC's GMA Claim to Link Between Nearsightedness and Texting

Study Finds Many More Nearsighted Americans

There was an interesting story this morning on ABC's Good Morning America:  Study Finds More Nearsighted Americans.  This story was based on a recent National Eye Institute Story.  The lead in to this story claimed a link between our kids texting and myopia.

Also called myopia, nearsightedness is a refractive error that produces clear vision for near objects but blurs objects seen in the distance. Nearsightedness is caused by an abnormally steep curvature in the cornea or by an elongated eyeball. As a result, light rays passing through the cornea converge at a point before the retina.

Several interesting points were made in the piece:

  • Myopia in the US increased from 25% in the 1970's to 41% today.
  • Myopia effects 40 to 50 million Americans.
  • Costs of treatment is $2 to $3 billion annually.

The story further went on that there is a genetic predisposition to develop myopia and suggests that close work may be a contributing factor, however, there is no scientific proof if this linkage.  Adding the fact that there are over 110 billion text messages sent annually just clouds the issue.  Many more people eat sushi today than in the 1970's, maybe this is the cause of myopia development?!?

It might simply be that nearsighted patients like to do close tasks more because it is easier for them.  The question becomes:  What comes first the task or the condition?, just like the chicken and the egg story.

In my opinion there is no correlation between myopia development and close work, computer work, or texting.  Further study is certainly warranted to determine environmental causes.  I do agree with the takeaway message:  Regular eye exams are required to maintain eye health!  If there are no problems, get that eye exam every 2 years..



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