Have Poor Eyesight? Maybe You Should Have Played Outside More

Why can’t we see very well? Reading under the covers certainly didn't help.

I’ve had glasses since I was 8. I can’t remember the last time that I woke up in the morning without reaching toward the bedside table in order to bring the blurry world into focus. I’ve had contacts since I was 11, and I wear them most days: plenty of friends have no idea just how myopic I am. (Very.) And I’m always surprised to find out that this friend or that friend has bad vision. We all seem to have bad vision.

Why can’t we see? I’ve always assumed that, in my case, it’s because my parents both have bad eyes. But according to a new paper in The Lancet, genetic factors can’t explain why increasing numbers of people need glasses. Studies in places like Singapore of people of a variety of backgrounds—Chinese, Malay, India, in this case—show that genetic heritage doesn’t impact rates of near-sightedness. It’s impossible to explain the boom in bad eyes without looking at how people spend their time.

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