Children who spend time doing activities outdoors appear to have a lower risk of developing nearsightedness, or myopia, as it is medically termed. This, according to a recent study published at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.
We’ve blogged quite a bit about Myopia, and our doctors are the best in the country at helping men and women improve their vision, especially in relation to Myopia. But this new study is good news for all of us, especially our children!
There is some evidence that myopia is hereditary, but research increasingly shows that the visual stress of too much close work may play a role.
So how do researchers suggest that our kiddos balance the amount of “close work” in their lives? It’s simple. They go outside and play!
Now, there is still a lot of research that needs to be done concerning all of this, but the basic premise seems logical. Getting outside allows your eyes to exercise with different visual cues.
The research team, led by Dr. Mingguang He, PhD, followed 1,903 primary school students over 3 years to explore what difference it would make if one 40-minute session of outdoor activity was added to the school day.
After 3 years, the optical measurements of children were taken and analyzed.
The rate of myopia was 9.1% lower than among children who did not participate in the extra activities. Of the intervention group, 30.4% developed myopia over this time, compared with 39.5% of the control group. This represented a relative reduction of 23% over 3 years. Read more here.
But before we start prescribing kickball and freeze tag to our kiddos in order to fight Myopia, it should be noted that there are a lot of other possible factors at play here (pun intended).
Dr. Michael Rekpa, of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, calls for future studies to include information about the content of the activity, whether or not it can be standardized and how it differs from other studies, in order to inform decisions that could be made by schools regarding the implementation of activities.
Either way, it can’t hurt to get our little ones outdoors more on a daily basis! If you need some idea, check out this great PBC Kids article about “nature play.”