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Encouraging Children to Spend More Time Outdoors Could Decrease Myopia Development

Most kids love to spend as much time outside as they possibly can.  We all know that spending time doing physical activities outside is good for our overall health, but did you know that encouraging your kids to spend more time outside could be beneficial to their visual health? A recent study found a correlation between time spent outdoors during early childhood and reduced risk of pediatric myopia later in childhood. So what exactly is the connection? Here is some more information from that study.

Myopia in Children

Pediatric Myopia is a global problem.  Most children would rather spend more time inside with various forms of technology than outside doing physical activities.  The ALSPAC found that this is having an adverse effect on their visual health.  Over time, this study tested 2,833 participants, ages 2 through 15.  When children ages 3 to 9 spent more time outside, they saw a reduced risk of developing myopia between the ages of 10 and 15.  Parents were given detailed questionnaires about how much time their children spent outside from age 2 on.  From there, participants’ eyes were tested for the presence of myopia.  Over time, parents recorded time spent outside and time spent reading.  Scientists collected this data and examined participants to see how their activities affected the development of myopia.  

Asking the Right Questions

Study participants all filled out extensive, detailed surveys before their children were even born.  Both parents were asked about their vision and visual health.  Once their children were born, parents received subsequent questionnaires at (approximately) ages 2, 3, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, and 8.5 years old. These questionnaires asked about how much time children were spending outside on different days.  They gave ranges of “none at all,” “less than 1 hour,” “1 to 2 hours,” and “3 or more hours”.  There were also variances for weekdays, weekends, holidays, and time of year. The collected data was then simplified and used to create risk categories.

What They Found

Taking genetic risks into account, the study found that the more time the children spent outside, the more they reduced their risk of developing pediatric myopia.  Furthermore, the study showed that time spent outside could slow the effects if a patient has already started to develop myopia.


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