One more reason, if needed, to keep children away from screens. By launching a campaign to raise public awareness of the global scourge of myopia on Friday, June 24, the Institute for Medical Education and Prevention (IEMP), located in Lyon, sounded the alarm. According to an Ipsos survey conducted from April 12 to 22 on behalf of this private establishment financed by the optical industry and mutual insurance companies, among a representative sample of 3,601 French people, children aged 3 to 6 devote today 3 h 29 a day in activities requiring near vision: book, smartphone, tablet, computer, video game. This increases to 4:03 a.m. for 7 to 10 year olds, 6:54 a.m. for 11 to 13 year olds and 7:28 a.m. for 14 to 18 year olds.
These data could also be below reality. “They correspond to the assessment made by parents and are most likely underestimated”, notes Bruno Assouly, founder of the IEMP. Above all, they confirm the link between the use of screens and the surge in cases of refractive anomaly that is myopia, which results in blurred vision from afar and clear near vision.
“The significant time devoted to activities on screens puts a strong strain on near vision, in the same way as the low exposure to natural light, due to the reduction in outdoor activities and the extension of the duration of studies which promote intensive close-up work »explains Mr. Assouly.
Myopia is certainly hereditary: the risk in a child would be multiplied by two if one of his parents is nearsighted and by three to eight if both parents are. But genetic factors are only involved “in 10% of cases” and play a role “less prominent” than environmental factors, according to EPMF. Ten years ago, the head of the ophthalmology department at the American Hospital in Paris refuted that time spent on screens favors the development of myopia, on the grounds that this ” theory “he said, did not find, at the time, “no scientific support”.
A global phenomenon
In 2022, no one dares to say such things. “Children today are watching more screens and reading more closely than ever before. This induces the contraction of a muscle which deforms the lens. To avoid this, the eye will automatically grow in size and cause myopia.”explains Dr. Thomas Jona Wolfensberger, chief physician at the Jules-Gonin university ophthalmic clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland, an establishment with no connection to the awareness initiative taken by the IEMP.
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