This might sound glib, but perhaps one of the best things to tell your child to reduce his or her risk of myopia is, “Go outside and play!”
A number of recent studies have found that spending more time outdoors may help prevent or reduce the progression of nearsightedness in children.
- In the Sydney Myopia Study, researchers in Australia evaluated the effect of time spent outdoors on the development and progression of myopia among 6-year-olds and 12-year-olds randomly selected from 51 Sydney schools.The 12-year-old children who spent more time outdoors had less myopia at the end of the two-year study period than others in the study — even after adjusting for the amount of reading performed, parental myopia and ethnicity.Children who performed the most amount of near work and spent the least amount of time outdoors had the highest mean amount of nearsightedness.
- Researchers in Taiwan evaluated the effect of outdoor activity during class recess on myopia risk and progression among elementary school students.Children participating in the one-year study ranged from 7 to 11 years of age and were recruited from two nearby schools located in a suburban area of southern Taiwan.The study authors concluded that outdoor activities during recess in elementary school have a significant protective effect on myopia risk among children that are not yet nearsighted and reduce the progression of myopia among nearsighted schoolchildren.
- Researchers in Denmark published a study of the seasonal effect of available daylight on myopia development among Danish schoolchildren.Myopia risk was determined by measurement of the axial (front-to-back) elongation of the children’s eyes in different seasons. Increasing axial length of the eye is associated with increasing nearsightedness.The amount of daylight changes significantly with the seasons in Denmark, ranging from nearly 18 hours per day in summertime to only seven hours per day in winter months.In winter (when the children had access to the fewest hours of daylight), average growth in the axial length of their eyes was significantly greater than it was in summer, when their outdoor sunlight exposure was greatest (0.19 mm vs. 0.12 mm).
- Researchers in the UK evaluated the results from eight well-designed studies of the effect of time spent outdoors on the development and progression of myopia among 10,400 children and adolescents.The researchers calculated a 2 percent drop in the risk of developing myopia for each additional hour children spend outdoors per week.
Given the research above, it’s a great idea to encourage your children to spend more time outdoors (and leave the cell phone and other electronic devices at home or in their pockets!).
From All About Vision