A gene that causes shortsightedness has been identified by British scientists, raising hopes that eye drops could soon be used to prevent the condition.
Shortsightedness, or myopia, affects one in three Brits and usually starts to develop in childhood. Although genes are primarily responsible, modern lifestyles don’t help the condition as we spend an increasing amount of time indoors and staring at monitors.
“We hope by understanding the mechanisms we can stop children from becoming shortsighted and stop shortsighted children from becoming more shortsighted,” said Dr Chris Hammond, from King’s College London.
Shortsightedness is when far away objects appear blurred while near objects are in focus. It happens when the eyeball grows too big and does not focus light properly. Scientists hope this new discovery will help in the development of eye drops to prevent the over-growth of the eye.
Terri Young from Duke University in the US offers this advice to help prevent the onset of shortsightedness. “People need to go outside and look at the horizon. Today’s near work forces our eyes to be constantly in tension to focus on reading papers and watching monitors.”
Eye tests for children are really important to pick up any need for glasses or other treatment early as some eye conditions can be corrected. So in all the back to school excitement, don’t forget to book yours a checkup.