Growing Myopia Epidemic: Eye Experts Warn Half of the Global Population to Develop Nearsightedness by 2050 – Boston 25 News

Madison Timmons, an 11-year-old from Dedham, Massachusetts, discovered that she was nearsighted after struggling to see the board in her fifth-grade social studies class. She also had trouble reading signs from a distance at the grocery store and noticed that she was having trouble with certain subjects in school. Madison’s mother, Patricia Timmons, took her to see an optometrist who diagnosed her with myopia, a condition that affects seeing things far away.

Myopia occurs when the eyes are stretched, causing light rays to hit the retina in front of where they should. This condition can be easily corrected by using glasses or contact lenses, but ophthalmologists have been sounding the alarm about the growing problem of myopia, which is already at epidemic proportions. The International Institute for Myopia estimates that half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050, with 10% suffering from severe or ‘strong’ myopia.

It’s not entirely clear why myopia is on the rise, but many believe it’s due to the increased amount of time that people spend staring at electronic screens. However, Ben Lickteig, a licensed optometrist and owner of the Lickteig Family Eyecare in Dedham and Natick, says there’s no solid research to back it up. He recommends following the 20/20/20 rule, which means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes and looking out a window 20 feet away. This relaxes the eyes and the focus system, eliminating eye strain.

Lickteig recommends early screening for myopia as it tends to progress in childhood. He participates in a program called InfantSEE, which provides free eye exams for toddlers and children from 6 months to 12 years old, regardless of income or insurance. Madison Timmons now wears contact lenses and can see clearly. Her mother, Patricia Timmons, sees the effect not only in the classroom but also on the football field, where Madison is back to peak form with her D again. Madison’s set of lenses changed the entire trajectory of her life.

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