Recess May Reduce Nearsightedness

Although myopia (or nearsightedness) is normally inherited, cases have increased by more than 65 percent in the U.S. since 1970, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Although myopia in children is correctable, it can become more severe in adulthood, increasing the risk of diseases such as glaucoma and retinal detachment.

Fortunately, several studies suggest that there is an easy and effective way to lower risk of nearsightedness…spending more time outdoors.

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A group of researchers investigating seven studies on myopia in children and adolescents found a significant association between time spent outdoors and nearsightedness. Children who suffered from the condition spent, on average, 3.7 hours less time outdoors per week than those with normal vision or hyperopia (farsightedness). For each additional hour per week spent outdoors, cases of myopia dropped by 2 percent, reports Eye Smart.

Another study in Denmark measured axial eye length (the distance from the front to the back of the eye) in nearsighted children over seasonal intervals. An increase in axial eye length indicates worsening myopia. Those with the fewest hours of exposure to daylight saw an average growth of 0.19 millimeters, whereas those with the most exposure experienced an average growth of 0.12 millimeters.

A final study tested students in Taiwan at two elementary schools where children had previously spent recess indoors. Students at one school were asked to spend 80 minutes per day outside for one year. Researchers discovered that significantly fewer children in the test group developed myopia.

Researchers believe that time spent outdoors is beneficial to vision because our eyes release dopamine when exposed to the sun. Even so, children’s eyes should always be well-protected from UV rays with a pair of sunglasses. Our Real Kids’ collection of sports shades feature wraparound frames and shatterproof lenses, making them ideal for active kids.