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Why so many people need glasses now

Nearsightedness is on the rise worldwide. How did that happen?

Christophe Haubursin is a senior producer for the Vox video team. Since joining the team in 2016, he has produced for Vox’s YouTube channel and Emmy-nominated shows Glad You Asked and Explained.

Over the past few decades, children around the world have been diagnosed with nearsightedness at increasingly high rates. Nearsightedness, or myopia, can stabilize over time, but it doesn’t get better — meaning that those with myopia will rely on glasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery to see for their entire lives.

The blurriness associated with myopia is caused by eyeballs that have grown too long; in a stretched-out shape, eyes aren’t able to properly focus images onto the retina. Researchers believe two culprits are to blame: the lack of outdoor play, and prolonged time doing up-close activities like using digital devices.

In some places — like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, where over 80 percent of students graduating high school are myopic — intervening to slow the progression of myopia has become a nationwide effort.

Check out more of our body-related content, like this video on the special fat that kids have more of that makes them less cold in the winter.

You can find this video and the entire library of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

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