GOOD

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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In mid-March, as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as the health care bill) was getting its final trim for passage. One of the provisions that was lost in the final fights would have created an Early Learning Challenge Fund, money dedicated to improving the health and educational outcomes of children by giving them access to better services between birth and age five.

Seems like a missed opportunity to have a worthwhile program. But Monica Potts, over at The American Prospect, writes that provisions in the passed health care bill will still help in giving young children some of the advantages they need to become better learners.

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