With increases in childhood obesity and diabetes, there has been a big public awareness effort to get kids outdoors. A little less time playing video games or watching television and a little more time exercising can help keep children healthy through their important developmental years. But a recent study says that being outdoors may also provide a huge benefit to a child’s vision.
Well over 10,000 children were followed in a study that concluded being outdoors could significantly reduce a child’s likelihood of developing myopia, or nearsightedness. Children who spent a “high” amount of time outdoors were up to 50% less likely to develop nearsightedness over time. A “high” amount of time was defined as at least 3 hours outdoors a day during the summer and 1 hour a day in the winter.
The interesting aspect of the study is that it may actually be the outdoor light, rather than the specific activity, which reduces the risk of nearsightedness. While further study is needed, researchers theorize that the increased duration of outdoor light may stimulate dopamine production in the eye to reduce the development of nearsightedness.
Given this was such a large study with a very significant conclusion, it’s clear that your child’s vision could benefit by playing outdoors. The risk for nearsightedness could be greatly reduced, as well as the likelihood they would need glasses or contact lenses. But don’t forget UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors!