Sunshine – Insurance Against Nearsightedness

An insightful article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology analyzes several recent studies of the myopia epidemic and its causes. The piece explores the accumulating body of research pointing to a connection between a child’s time spent playing outdoors and their likelihood of becoming nearsighted, or myopic. As with previous studies, scientists continue to seek possible causes for the troubling increase of myopia in the past generation.

One study referenced is a large meta-analysis, reviewing the data sets collected from four separate studies on childhood myopia.  In this study, the researchers found that “for each additional hour children spent outdoors per week, their risk of being nearsighted dropped by about two percent. Nearsighted children in this study spent on average 3.7 fewer hours per week outdoors than those who either had normal vision or were farsighted. The study investigated whether children who logged more outdoor time also spent less time performing near work, such as playing computer games or studying, but no such relationship was found.”

The correlation of outdoor time and indoor time (spent, presumably on screens) is a critical area of interest for researchers. Scientists are probing urgently for the causes – and their relatedness – into the myopia epidemic within the current generation, and the indoor-time vs. outdoor-time equation is a critical area of concern.

Another study discussed within the AAO post found that “when schoolchildren were required to spend 80 minutes of recess time outdoors every day, fewer of them became nearsighted when compared to children who were not required to spend recess outdoors.”

As the piece asserts, it’s still unclear whether increased outdoor time relates to a decrease in myopia based upon the higher levels of sunlight or the increase in distance-focusing required of outdoor activities for kids. But increasingly, researchers are suggesting it is the sunlight and its role in helping young bodies naturally synthesize Vitamin D.

Supporting this theory, the article says, “though researchers don’t yet know exactly why outdoor time is beneficial, they think it’s probably related to exposure to daylight rather than to playing sports or other specific activities.”  As we covered in a recent Treehouse Eyes Myopia blog piece, recent studies are pointing to the this connection between ample sunlight and healthy eye formation for children during the ages when myopia typically manifests, from 5 to 10 years of age.

While science continues to seek answers to the multiple causes behind the myopia epidemic, we at Treehouse Eyes continue to offer revolutionary solutions to our patient families for controlling myopia instead of just masking its symptoms with glasses. To learn more about what you can finally do for your myopic child, please visit here.

We believe so strongly in myopia control’s power to slow and even stop myopia’s progression, we’re now offering complimentary evaluations to youngsters at our DC Metro vision centers, in Bethesda and Tysons Corner.  

Please email us at [email protected] or call 240-297-1017 for our Bethesda office and 703-991-2766 for our Tysons Corner office to schedule your child’s free first appointment.