If you have a child who was born in the summer and has a love for playing computer games, you're going to want to listen up to the results of a new study. According to this new research, summer babies who are linked to a heightened risk of developing short or nearsightedness (myopia) in childhood, which is being based on a twin study.
The study was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology and indicates that myopia is becoming increasingly common. Myopia is a refractive error, meaning that the eye can't focus light properly. The result is that close objects look clear, but distant ones appear blurred. However, it can be corrected with prescription glasses, laser surgery, or contact lenses, but the condition is linked to a heightened risk of visual impairment and sight loss in later life, which is the reason for conducting the research to begin with.
With myopia becoming very common, 4.758 billion people worldwide are likely to be affected by 2050, up from 1.950 billion in 2010, it's important to really study the cause and put some preventative measures in place. With genes known to play a role in the cause, they aren't the reason for the rising rates. Based on the fact that your eyes develop at quite a rapid pace during the early years in life, it was important to start looking at things like environmental factors.
For this study, 1991 twins were observed whose age was 16.7 years, on average. Each pair of twins were born between 1994 and 1996 in the UK, and taking part in the long-term Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). For this, opticians provided information from their eye tests about myopia, and the researchers looked at behavioral, educational, economic, and social factors at the 2,3,4,7,8,10,12,14, and 16 years old ages, to capture critical stages of child and eye development.
On average, these children started wearing glasses at age 11 and factors most strongly associated with the development of myopia were the mother's educational level (university or postgraduate level), hours spent playing computer games, and being born during the summer. Furthermore, the hours spent playing computer games may also be linked to less time outdoors as a factor that has previously been linked to heightened myopia risk.
Interestingly, fertility treatment seemed to protect against myopia and was associated with a 25-30 percent lower risk. The researchers speculate that children born as a result of fertility treatment are often born smaller and slightly more premature, and may have some level of developmental delay, which might account for shorter eye length and less myopia.
Overall, it's important to make sure our little ones aren't misusing smart devices and trading swapping them with their time outdoors.