Aside from genetics, researchers believe that environmental factors may also play a role in causing kids to develop myopia, or nearsightedness.
Children with myopia have longer eyeballs and as a result, the eyes have a hard time coming up with a clear image because the light entering the eye does not focus on the retina. Myopia is considered as one of the most common causes of visual impairment around the world.
According to a study entitled the “Sydney Myopia Study” by researchers from Cambridge University, less cases of nearsightedness occurred in kids who had more time playing outdoors. The researchers suggest that this is because these kids have more exposure to natural light and spend more time looking at distant objects.
After looking at eight cases on outdoor play and nearsightedness among 10,400 kids and adolescents, they discovered that the nearsighted kids spent 3.7 hours outdoors weekly. For every extra hour that the kids spent in outdoor play, they had as much as a two percent reduced risk for nearsightedness.
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Said Dr. Anthony Khawaja from the University of Cambridge, "Increasing children's outdoor time could be a simple and cost-effective measure with important benefits for their vision and general health.” Eye doctors also recommend that parents invest in UV protective glasses, as ultraviolet rays can damage the eyes.
Adds Khawaja, “If we want to make clear recommendations, however, we'll need more precise data. Future, prospective studies will help us understand which factors, such as increased use of distance vision, reduced use of near vision, natural ultraviolet light exposure or physical activity, are most important."