Wednesday is Wellness Day

Posted 09/26/2012 | By HealthCorps

If you want to reduce one of the risk factors of childhood nearsightedness, then have your child spend more time outside.  New research suggests that encouraging children to spend time playing outdoors may protect their eyesight and reduce the risk of myopia, or nearsightedness.  That translates to parents setting time rules for TV watching, video gaming and internet surfing.  Experts say that even though many cases of myopia are inheritable, environmental factors can contribute to risk as well.  And all those television viewing hours can be driving higher rates of nearsightedness in kids and teens.

Using information from seven studies, researchers estimated the impact of spending time indoors on the risk of becoming nearsighted.  They found a significant association.  For every “increase in hours per week” of outdoor time, a 2% reduction of the odds of developing myopia was noted.  Of course, it may actually be the outdoor time directly contributing to eye health too.  More play time in the fresh air may increase dopamine levels in the eye, in response to the sunlight.  That may in turn promote eye health.  Certainly the combination of outdoor benefits plus less viewing time together may be providing a dual influence on the risk of developing myopia.

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