How to Protect Your Eyesight

Back in the early 1970s, about 25 percent of Americans were diagnosed as nearsighted, but a new study shows that between 1999 and 2004, that number grew to nearly 42 percent. And Dr. Barbara Robinson of the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry suspects a similar trend in Canada.

Our society’s focus on “near work”-from sewing and reading to peering at computers all day-may be responsible, says Susan Vitale, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute. Recent research from the University of Sydney in Australia also suggests that nearsightedness can sometimes be prevented in teenagers if they spend more time outdoors, possibly because natural light may produce a sharper image on the retina.

That’s still a theory-there’s no proven way to avert myopia. But nearsighted or not, you can help ease eyestrain while doing near work by giving your eyes an occasional rest. How often? Experts recommend using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look up from what you’re doing and focus 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.

/Want more information?

Find out everything you need to know about caring for your eyes in The Reader’s Digest Guide to Eye Care. Buy it now at the online store.

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