By Steven Reinberg
TUESDAY, Nov. 6, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Kids with summer birthdays, especially those who spend long hours playing on smartphones and tablets, might be at greater risk for vision problems, a new study suggests.
Nearsightedness, also called myopia, is on the rise worldwide. It’s what eye doctors call a refractive error, meaning the eyes can’t focus light properly. The result: Close objects look clear; distant ones, fuzzy.
It’s most often caused by continuously focusing on close objects while the eyes are still developing — as in reading, for example. But the growing use of electronic devices seems to be making the problem worse, researchers report.
“As ever, everything should be done in moderation,” said lead researcher Dr. Christopher Hammond, chairman of ophthalmology at King’s College London in England. He urged parents to limit kids’ use of electronic devices.
That appears to be especially important for kids born in the summer, the study suggests. That’s because they start formal schooling at a younger age than kids born in winter so they are exposed to more reading sooner. And that increases myopia risk, the researchers said.
The researchers added that, while their study doesn’t prove smartphones, tablets and computer games cause nearsightedness, those devices may lead kids to spend less time outdoors. And less time outdoors also appears to increase myopia risk.