Protect Your Eyes
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
With the past two years spent with us living most of our lives at home, there hasn’t been much opportunity to get out and about and experience the outdoors as we used to anymore.
As the new Covid-19 variant spreads like wildfire throughout the country, we will once again have to hunker down in our homes to stay safe and protect ourselves from the disease.
Many other health issues that could possibly arise as a result of the time we spend isolated at home have been discussed, but there are also a few more that we may need to look into.
You might have heard of the medical condition, Myopia (more commonly known as near-sightedness). Those who suffer from Myopia lose their ability to see objects that are further away from them. All it takes is to step outside and look around to realise that this is a medical condition that is starting to become a major problem for the population. In fact, in a scientific study performed in America, they learnt that there was a significant increase in near-sightedness among the country’s population from ages 12-54 over the past 45 years; from 25 percent in 1970 to over 40 percent today.
You might have noticed this trend in our very own island nation of Sri Lanka, with many of our youth having to make regular visits to the optician. It seems there are more people who wear glasses from a young age than ever before.
Of course, there are plenty of people with a number of opinions on this issue, reminiscing on the ‘good old days,’ pointing out that ‘things weren’t like this before.’ Some may point out that playing video games and watching too much television combined with a bad diet is causing this problem which is somewhat correct.
What is the reason?
Some might believe that evolution had a part to play in this. We no longer need to worry about predators lurking around us, so the need to be able to see far distances is no longer a problem. If it were, let’s just say a number of people in our population might be in trouble (myself included).
But that is not so. The answer in fact, lies above you.
Catching some sun
There has been scientific evidence that suggest children who spend more time outside exposed to daylight may have a lower risk of suffering from Myopia, also known as near-sightedness in the future.
Yes, spending long hours with our eyes trained on books, computer monitors, televisions and cell phone screens do harm our eyesight, but one major issue is that with our modern day lifestyle (especially in the city), it’s not easy to get out and ‘catch some sun’ while looking at distant objects.
According to an article by Michigan State University, not getting out and exposing our eyes to sunlight at a young age affects the ability for children’s developing eyes to correct and maintain its natural shape to focus light that enters the eye through the lens to the retina, helping us focus on images near and far. If kids don’t get enough sun every day, their eyes would fail to grow at the correct shape and images far away would start to appear blurry at a young age. Exposure to indoor and artificial light simply cannot do that.
In the article, it mentions that Dr. Christopher Starr from the Weill Cornell Medical College suggests that children should spend at least one to three hours outside, as a counter measure.
If you have young kids, or siblings, you would know that school and studying takes up most of their time of day, with very little time for them to spend outside. They might not have had that much time to spend outside before, and now, with the pandemic, that time has been reduced even more.
Does this mean young children should be outside, staring at the sun at noon? No.
Damage to the eyes caused by prolonged exposure to ultra violet rays from the sun is definitely a worry. But children should have the opportunity to spend time outside to protect their eyesight, at the very least.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different. You may live in a suburban house or even a high-rise apartment in the middle of the city. To address this matter would need some improvising.
This could mean spending time gardening each day, or exercising on the balcony. Implementing this is up to you.
No one is exempt
All this doesn’t mean that you and I are able to get away either. Make sure to spend time away from your computer or work station and spend time outside looking at the distance. It will help clear your mind and protect your eyesight.
The pandemic has definitely changed a lot about life. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. As with everything, we must adapt and move on.
Have a wonderful week.