Gen Z Facing a Blindness Epidemic

( – A recent report from the Daily Mail detailed a new study out of California that showed a 59 percent increase in myopia, or near-sightedness, among teenagers. Ophthalmologist Joern Jorgensen warned that Gen Zers are not spending enough time outside, which has led to a dopamine deficiency. Jorgensen said that the presence of the neurotransmitter in the retina adapts vision to daylight conditions, and levels increase when spending time in the sun. Jorgensen believes that serious eye conditions, including blindness, will develop if the warning is not taken seriously.

Zoomers are also at risk of similar eye problems, especially when not getting enough time in the sun during puberty, according to the Daily Mail report. Excess time spent in front of electronic devices has also contributed to the increase in myopia. Eyeball lengthening and lens changes result from overcompensating when focusing on a device screen. The eyes also blink less when staring at something so close to the face. The World Health Organization believes that around 40 percent of the world’s population will have myopia by 2030.

The Daily Mail cited studies that showed how young people with severe myopia are at a 41 percent increased risk of developing macular degeneration. Jorgensen said that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service spent some of the largest portions of its resources on treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A monthly injection of a drug called Lucentis costs around £1,275. Other diseases of the eye can stem from myopia, including glaucoma, retina detachment, and cataracts.

University of California optometry professor, Dr. Maria Liu, said that parents need to take their kids outside as often as possible, while also limiting the amount of time spent in front of a screen. Liu also told NPR that kids “need to engage in real outdoor life.” According to the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition, over half of children spend less time outside than their parents did at the same age.

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