Kid-Time Outdoors – The Golden Years and Myopia Prevention

All ages are not created equal, at least when it comes to the benefits of time spent outdoors reducing the risk of eventual myopia in kids.

That’s the conclusion of new research published this past winter by a team of scientists working at the University of Bristol in the UK. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) followed almost 3,000 children from the ages of 2 to 15 years to determine the correlation between time spent outdoors and the risk of becoming myopic.

In the study, parents tracked and reported the time their children spent out-of-doors.  In the summary of their findings the authors note that, “From 3 years of age onward, greater time outdoors was associated with a reduced risk of incident myopia”, and “… additional time spent outdoors across the 3 to 9 years age range was associated with a reduced incidence of myopia between ages 10 and 15 years. There was a trend for the association to increase toward the older end of the 3 to 9 years range.”

Intriguingly, the study found that, “these associations were independent of two major risk factors for myopia: time reading and number of myopic parents.”

The researchers found that, “Before age 4 years, there was little difference in time outdoors behavior between children who later became myopic compared with those who were to remain nonmyopic, whereas between the ages of 4.0 and 8.5 years, children who later became myopic spent progressively less time outdoors relative to their peers who remained nonmyopic.”

The big takeaway for young families is that there seems to be a golden age span between 4 and 8 years old when the more time your child spends outside, the better chance they have of a reduced likelihood of becoming myopic.

You can read the whole study here.

If you would like your child assessed to see if they are a good candidate for myopia control at Treehouse Eyes, we’re offering complimentary evaluations this spring at our Bethesda and Tysons Corner vision centers. Please call 240-297-1017 (Bethesda) or 703-991-2766 (Tysons) to schedule your free appointment.