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Experts used to think that sharp vision was predetermined by the genes you inherited from your parents. But now we know we’re destroying our eyesight with everyday modern activities.
And the worst of those modern activities for your eye health? Staying indoors too much. A wide range of studies show that not getting outdoors enough leads to nearsightedness – myopia.
Researchers who study the eyes were initially stunned when they found that the rates of myopia in Asia have skyrocketed in recent years. They couldn’t explain this epidemic of nearsightedness.
Until they realized it was linked to the increase in Asians being engaged in indoor work – long days of looking at computer screens and doing other intensive indoor activities.
The Asian problem has become so serious that in Seoul, Korea, today, more than 96 percent of young men are now nearsighted.
One reason being outdoors helps your eyes, say scientists, is that bright sunlight brings the neurotransmitter dopamine into the eye’s retina. Without that dopamine, the shape of the eye can become distorted, leading to nearsightedness.
Myopia and the need to wear glasses is more than just an inconvenience. Being myopic increases your risk of other serious eye problems as you age: It can lead to myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, premature cataracts and glaucoma.
Studies that have looked at ways to prevent myopia confirm that the simple solution is to get away from your video screen and get outside. Research in both Asia and Denmark show that the more time you are outdoors in sunlight, the better your chances of passing on glasses.
And while you’re out there, do some healthy walking, too! Research shows that aerobic exercise makes for healthier eyes and protects the retina. The reason is blood flow. The blood vessels in your eyes carry the micronutrients you need for sharp eyesight like lutein and zeaxanthin to the tissues in your eyes.