Children who have more outdoor activities are more likely to have a better health in general as well as having a minimized risk of developing myopia also knows as nearsightedness, according to a new study.
Chinese researchers selected six schools from China and analysed the health state of approximately 1,900 pupils over the course of three years. 23 percent of the children who were instructed to spend more time doing outdoor activities were less exposed to the risk of becoming nearsighted, said scientists.
In the study published Sep. 15, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers chose pupils aged seven from six schools in China. The children were then separated into two groups: the first group had to engage in at least 40 minutes more outdoor activities at school and afterwards at home as well, while the second group of children were advised to carry on with their normal daily activities. The study took place over a three-year period of time.
The results of the study show that about 30 percent of the children from the first group and 38 percent of the children from the second group became nearsighted three years after the study began. As shown by these results the difference between the two cases is pretty clear.
Mingguang He, the author of the study and doctor at the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Centre, Guangzhou, is of opinion that although this study was only conducted in China, it applies to children all over the world.
Experts say that it is very important to reduce the risk of developing nearsightedness in children, because myopia usually worsens with age and it could lead to cases of “pathological myopia” which is a serious deterioration of the eyesight.
„[…] a delay in the onset of myopia in young children, who tend to have a higher rate of progression, could provide disproportionate long-term eye-health benefit. In order to maximize the benefit, we should further increase the outdoor time by using school recesses and encouraging parents to bring their children outside on weekends,” explained researchers.
The outdoors could potentially be damaging to the eyesight if children do not protect themselves accordingly. The American Academy of Paediatrics advise children to protect their eyes from UV light, by wearing a cap, by staying in shaded areas, or by wearing sunglasses.
On the other side of the spectrum paediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Michael X. Repka, is of opinion that by spending more time outside the likelihood of children’s eyesight being more protected is probably small.
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