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Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Children who spend more time outside and away from the television are less likely to develop myopia, which is the inability to see things clearly at a distance.

A new report from researchers at The New England College of Optometry doesn’t determine whether too much indoor activity actually causes poor eyesight.

Researchers say “it would seem prudent to encourage outdoor activities, not necessarily sports, for all growing child and young adults in order to reduce the progression of myopia,” said Howard C. Howland, a professor of neurology and behavior at Cornell University.

Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, affects about a third of Americans. The condition is more common in people who engage in a lot of “near work” due to their jobs, according to researchers.

In the study, researchers gave questionnaires to the parents of 191 children who were at an average age of 13.3 years. Among other things, the researchers asked about the children’s time spent using the computer, reading for pleasure and watching TV.

The children who developed myopia spent less time in outdoors activities, an average 8.3 hours per week compared to 12.6 hours among other children. Those with myopia also watched more television, 12.5 hours compared with 8.4 hours per week.

“One possibility is that all the hours spent viewing objects at a distance rather than up close, as happens outdoors, provides a ’stop’ signal to block myopia progression” said study author Jane Gwiazda. “Outdoor exposure also may be beneficial, because sunlight causes the pupil to constrict, resulting in a larger depth of focus, the range in which objects appear clear, and less image blur that’s associated with myopia development.”

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