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Myopia: Playing outdoors as a preventative measure

summarised by Dr. Stephanie Ruf, Nutritionist

Today, half of Europe’s young people under the age of 20 are short-sighted. A study shows that, in addition to genetics, being outdoors has a significant influence on whether or not a person develops myopia (short-sightedness).
693 first-graders in Taiwan were divided into two groups: a “fresh air group” who spent at least 11 hours per week outdoors and a control group that did not change their habits. The children in the intervention group, who were exposed to lots of natural sunlight, had a 54% lower risk (p>0.003) of rapid myopia progression. These results did not require exposure to strong solar radiation, but only exposure to natural light (even in the shade).

Conclusion: A reduced occurrence of myopia in children who play outdoors in daylight (Wu et al. 2018).

Information for parents: Playing outdoors can have a preventative effect on myopia (Wu et al. 2018), whereas too little time spent in natural sunlight and the consumption of electronic media promote myopia. Reason: Focussing the eyes on close-up objects, for example, when staring at a smartphone (more so than when reading a book), causes the eyeball to grow. The result is permanent myopia!
Recommendations: Children should spend 2 hours outdoors every day (Ärzteblatt online 2018).

Wu PC, Chen CT, Lin KK et al. Myopia prevention and outdoor light intensity in a school-based cluster randomized trial. 2018 Aug; 125(8): 1239-1250. Ophthalmology Epub 2018 Jan 19. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.12.011.
Ärzteblatt online: 2018 (retrieved on 10.09.2019)