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Ophthalmologists Say Time Outdoors Lowers Risk of Myopia

Posted by floriza in Ophthalmology

A new ophthalmology study conducted at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom shows that children and adolescents can reduce their risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia) if they spend time outdoors. The study was presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida. Data from eight studies were analyzed and involved 10,400 children and teenagers.

The researchers determined that for every hour spent outdoors, the children lowered their risk of becoming myopic by two percent. They calculated that nearsighted children tend to spend almost four hours less time per week outdoors than children with normal vision or children with farsightedness (hyperopia).

Another study in China of 80 middle school-aged children found that children who were already nearsighted experienced some improvement after spending more time outdoors for a two-year period.

Most children with vision difficulties are diagnosed with nearsightedness. The researchers noted that myopia is more widespread in the United States and Asia today, however, than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. The theory is that children and teenagers in the past spent more time outdoors than children today.

Natural Light and Eyesight

It is unclear as yet how natural light affects vision and increases distance vision, which is impaired in myopia. It could be that the children use their distance vision more while outdoors. The researchers did check to see if the children were using their near vision less while indoors and found that there was no reduction in near vision use. The physical activity involved with playing outdoors could be a factor. More studies must be conducted to attempt to determine exactly what about being outdoors helps to prevent myopia.

The ophthalmologists were unwilling to make direct suggestions as to the amount of time children should spend outdoors. Exposure to natural light is known to be beneficial, however, provided that children and teens are wearing sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB radiation. Children who play outdoors also usually engage in activities that are more physical, which can prevent obesity and promote muscular and skeletal health.

What is Myopia?

Myopia or nearsightedness makes close objects clear and distant objects blurry. The condition is a result of the shape of the cornea, which becomes too curved. The light that then enters the eye is distorted. Thirty percent of people in the United States have myopia. While heredity plays a part, visual stress is believed to be the primarily cause.

If you need ophthalmology in New Jersey, medical facilities are available in Trenton, Summit, Newark, and other parts of the state.

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