Research from ophthalmologists shows that constant screen time is drastically, and permanently, changing the shape of our eyes. As our eyes focus on near objects — like phones — for extended periods of time, the eyeballs elongate, which increases nearsightedness, or myopia.

Why it matters: “Myopia affects half of young adults in the United States, nearly twice as many as 50 years ago and over 40% of the population,” The Guardian reports.

What they’re saying: Neuroscientist and Stanford professor Dr. Andrew Huberman explained eye elongation on The Skinny Confidential podcast, saying, “The eyes are not fixed structures, they actually change shape. If you or especially kids view something up close for many hours a day, the eye actually becomes permanently elongated.”

  • Huberman went on to explain what happens to nearsighted individuals, saying, “You have this lens and the light is focused, but it doesn’t land on the part of the eye it needs to land on. Instead, it lands in front, which is why it’s called nearsighted.”
  • A study published in the journal The Lancet Digital Health found smart device screen time, alone or in combination with computer use, was significantly associated with myopia.

The solution: A study in the journal Acta Ophthalmologica, involving thousands of clinical trials, shows that spending two hours outdoors per day can offset or even reverse this myopia or nearsightedness.

  • Outdoor exposure and the act of viewing distant objects is crucial to eye health because of UVB light and decreased eye strain, according to Huberman.
  • Optometrist Donald Mutti also recognized the relationship between sunlight and eye health, saying, “Data suggest that a child who is genetically predisposed to myopia are three times less likely to need glasses if they spend more than 14 hours a week outdoors,” per Science Daily.

The big picture: While myopia’s negative effects harm many people, there are steps to take to save your eyesight. Daily natural sunlight and breaks from screens to view a horizon in the distance throughout your day will benefit your vision and overall eye health immensely.