Increasing exposure to outdoor light can significantly reduce short-sightedness in children, according to new research.
The findings also revealed that it is not ‘near work’ on the computer and other screens that cause myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light.
“While screens are contributing to children spending more time indoors than in previous years, the research shows they are not the direct cause of the increased incidence of myopia,” said lead researcher Scott Read, optometrist and associate professor at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
“There are two known benefits to being outside in today’s world, it gives your eyes a chance to focus on things further away and have a rest from close-up work and it also exposes our eyes to brighter outdoor light, which appears to reduce our risks of developing short-sightedness,” he said.
“Eye growth signifies an increased risk of developing myopia and the children in the study who were exposed to less outdoor light saw their eyes grow about 50 percent faster than those who were exposed to more light.”
“Another one of the findings was the back of eye got thicker in the children who were exposed to greater light and we believe this helps to protect kids.”
Optometrists need to make their patients aware that less than 60 minutes’ exposure to light outdoors per day is a risk factor for myopia.
“It looks like even for those with myopia already, increasing time outside is likely to reduce progression,” he added.
Children need to spend more than an hour and preferably at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing, say experts.
However, it is not just children who should be exposing their eyes to more outdoor light, with adults also encouraged to do the same.
The findings were presented at the Australian Vision Convention in Queensland.