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Nearsightedness On The Rise

By ABC-7 Reporter Jill Galus

Las Cruces, New Mexico – Dry eyes, headache, and blurred vision. It is not the flu. Doctors say, these are symptoms of eye strain – and a growing number of Americans suffer these everyday.

Las Cruces Optometrist Brent Shelley says, most of his patients are treated for nearsightedness.

According to the National Eye Institute, the number of Americans with nearsightedness has jumped 66 percentin the past four decades.

This is a condition where objects up close are seen just fine, but anything at a distance is blurry.

College student Katie Schultz says, she was diagnosed as a high school freshman.

She undergoes eye exams every year to monitor her vision.

We have become a technology-dependent generation. Dr. Shelley says, nearsightedness may be just the body’s adaptation.

“There’s actually a diagnosis now called computer vision syndrome, where when people read we do not blink as much and when they work at a computer for periods of time, will start to talk about dryness and blurriness,” Shelley said.

Endless hours spent text messaging and staring at small computer screens are convenient and common. Schultz says, she believes there is a link between this increased use of technology and cases of nearsightedness.

“What you train your body to do is what it’s going to do,” Schultz said. “So it doesn’t surprise me that my generation that has grown up on computers since we were 6 years old and cell phones since we were 10 or 12 or 15 is having issues with nearsightedness.”

“That would be speculative,” Shelley said. “But I would say, it’s probably only going to get worse quite honestly.”

Dr. Shelley says, until the true cause behind nearsightedness is identified, doctors cannot formulate a cure.

If anything, doctors say, setting down the phone once in a while, or stepping away from the computer could be a good idea for eyesight. Things may even begin to look clearer.

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