Explaining the recent increase in cases of myopia

07 March 2018


Why is myopia on the rise and how can we prevent it?

Over the past twenty years, there’s been a noticeable increase in cases of myopia around the world. In North America alone, the number of people affected has doubled. Another observation: myopia is occurring at even younger ages. Twenty years ago, this vision problem primarily affected youth aged 12 to 14. Today, optometrists are diagnosing more cases in children aged 8-9 years. The World Health Organization has called the rise in myopia a worldwide epidemic. What’s behind this phenomenon and how do we eradicate it? The Opto-Réseau team addresses the issue.

A little reminder: what is myopia?

In one of our recent articles, we defined different vision problems. Myopia is characterized by sharp vision up close, but blurred vision at distances. To give you a better idea: myopia is like looking at the world through a magnifying glass. I think we can agree that it’s not ideal outdoors!

What causes myopia?

Hereditary factor

Myopia in children and teens is essentially genetic. According to the Quebec Order of Optometrists (Quebec order of optometrists), the risks of becoming myopic are three times as high if one of your two parents is affected, and seven times as high if both parents have it. However, the number of isolated cases, which is children whose parents are not myopic, has risen dramatically over the past twenty years. The hereditary factor is thus not the only cause of myopia.

Blue light from our screens

The many hours passed in front of screens, computers, tablets, and smartphones could be a significant factor in the increase of myopia. The reason: the blue light emitted by these screens, but also the strain of constantly focusing close up, particularly when using mobile screens.

A lack of outdoor activities

When we’re indoors, we have to adjust our vision to a multitude of visual stimuli at varying distances. Outdoors, our perspective of our surroundings is much more uniform: our eye doesn’t necessarily have to focus on a close-up object.

Recent studies have shown that spending more time on outdoor activities can help significantly slow down myopia, especially in those 18 years and under.

What your Opto-Réseau optometrists recommend :

To reduce the risk of becoming myopic

  • Limit the number of hours spent in front of digital screens: for every 20 minutes spent in front of a digital screen, focus at something at 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds while blinking often.
  • Adjust the luminosity of your screens: there is software that allows you to reduce the blue light emitted by your screens based on the time of day.
  • Increase the time spent on outdoor activities, especially for children: we recommend at least 45 minutes a day.
  • The reading distance is also a crucial factor. The ideal distance between your eyes and your book, tablet or mobile phone should be equivalent to the length of your forearm.
  • Don’t forget to get your eyes checked by your optometrist regularly. If you notice a loss of clear eyesight at distances or visual fatigue, come see us.
  • Get information about the treatments of eye problems due to harmful blue light or read about it on our blog here.

To correct myopia

Wearing glasses or contact lenses will help improve your vision and protect your eyes against the harmful effects of blue light. Book an appointment with an Opto-Réseau optometrist if you have trouble seeing far.

es passées devant les téléviseurs, les ordinateurs, les tablettes et les téléphones intelligents pourraient largement contribuer à l’augmentation des cas de myopie. En cause, la lumière bleue émise par les écrans, mais aussi notre tendance à forcer la vision de près, notamment quand nous utilisons les écrans mobiles.

  • Blue light
  • Myopia
  • Screens


To find the best pair of prescription glasses or sunglasses for your needs, book an appointment at your Opto-Réseau clinic. Our eyecare professionals will be more than happy to help you pick the frames and lenses that are perfect for you!