Electronic gadgets are bad for our eyes. That’s the gist of several new studies we’ve read about, which have linked using computers, video games and smart phones to rising levels of myopia – the medical term for nearsightedness. For example: New statistics released by the National Institutes of Health found that during the past 30 years, the rate of myopia in North America has nearly doubled – from one-in-four people to almost one-in-two! In fact, for the first time in history, eye doctors are reporting more patients who are nearsighted than farsighted.

Also, a new Chinese study found that 60% of students in Shanghai schools are nearsighted – most likely because they spend an average of three hours a day using electronic devices. Eye doctors aren’t surprised by this trend. They say it “just makes sense” that computer technology is the cause, because we’re spending so much more time staring at bright screens close to our face.

Experts warn that technology may not be the only reason we’re becoming more nearsighted. For example, they say a lot of eyesight problems boil down to heredity. In fact, myopia is so common in Asian families that 90% of people in Singapore are diagnosed with it by the time they’re 18! There have also been several studies linking myopia with education. The thinking is that the more time you spend reading books, the more likely you are to become nearsighted.

On the flipside, a recent Australian study found that the more time children spent playing outdoors, the less likely they were to develop myopia. That’s why a growing number of eye doctors now recommend balancing your daily vision tasks, just to be safe. In other words: For every hour you spend looking at a video screen, aim to spend an hour outside looking at the world around you.