Control Nearsightedness with Outdoor Activities

Control Nearsightedness with Outdoor Activities

It’s July, the sun is shining, the beaches in Vancouver are bustling with people in bathing suits, and kids are out of school.  Summer is in full swing!

I had a patient come in the other day who was asking about ways to control or decrease the progression of her child’s nearsightedness.  We know that it is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors.  The usual theories include decreasing excessive near work, corneal reshaping (orthokeratology), and rigid gas permeable lenses.

I want to highlight a more recent study from the University of Sydney in Australia, led by Dr. Kathryn Rose, that links high rates of outdoor activity to lower rates of nearsightedness.  The study included 2367 Australian school children who underwent eye exams and completed questionnaires about their daily activities.  The interesting finding was that the lowest rates of nearsightedness were associated with the highest rates of outdoor activity, regardless of how much reading and other near work they did.  The researchers believe that the reason is related to the light intensity children are exposed to while outdoors.  The study also found that children need 10-14 hours per week outside, in addition to their outdoor breaks during school.  I hope this gives parents a good reasons to get their children out of the house and playing outside this summer!

To read the full study:

Rose, K A, Morgan, I, Ip, J, Kifley, A, Huynh, S, Smith, W, Mitchell, R P 2008, Outdoor activity reduces the prevalence of myopia in children, Ophthalmology: journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 115(8), 1279-1285

Dr. Jessica Chang, OD  drchang@avenueeyecare.com