A new Chinese study warns parents that children who play outdoors for at least 40 minutes a day have a reduced risk of developing nearsightedness, compared to the children who spend most of their time inside their homes.
Myopia, also know as nearsightedness, is one of the most common refractive dysfunctions of the eye. It causes distant objects to appear unclear while objects that are close range can still be seen clearly. Statistics show that the eye condition affects up to one third of people in the US.
Some Chinese researchers decided to find whether there is a relationship between outdoor activities and children’s eyesight. In order to do this, the team of researchers monitored six schools that allocated 40 minute breaks to their students for three years. For this study, they also monitored six other schools that only allocated 15 minute breaks to their students. Then, the researchers asked the parents to document the amount of time their children spent outside over the weekends.
At the beginning of the study, all children were tested for signs of myopia. The results showed that only 2% of them suffered from it. After the experimental phase of the study was completed, the children were tested again for signs of myopia. The results showed that only 30% of the children who played outdoors developed shortsightedness, whereas 40% of the group with shorter breaks and very little outdoor activities developed the eye condition.
Every year throughout the world, more and more children are being diagnosed with myopia. 60 years ago in China, only 20% percent of the population suffered from myopia. The nearsightedness rates are also increasing in Europe, Middle East, and the Americas.
Parents are worried because the condition can have a great negative impact over their school performance. Myopia is known for making children less focused and more susceptible to headaches and migraines. This study may just have shown the way towards a cure.
The team at the University of Guangzhou, China, have published their study papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Although the study involved more than 1,000 students in grades one and the results were quite significant and showed that there is indeed an association between outdoor activities and myopia, researchers can’t help but feel concerned that shortsightedness is still so common among young children.
The Chinese team believes that sunlight has a positive impact over the dopamine neurotransmitters from our retina, which are very important in the growth and healthy development of a child’s eyes.
Photo Credits wikipedia