Sydney, Australia, 7 June 2017: There are a lot of reasons to get our kids outside – fresh air, exercise, a growing obesity epidemic, reduced time on digital devices and peace and quiet for parents. It’s also been suggested that increased time outdoors is a simple way to prevent the onset and progression of myopia. But what do the latest clinical studies tell us?
A recent systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers at Shanghai Eye Disease Prevention and Treatment Centre and Brien Holden Vision Institute, looked at 25 recently published studies and found increased outdoor time to be protective for the development of myopia – about an extra 1.25 hrs/day compared with control/baseline time spent outdoors reduced the risk of onset of myopia by 50%.1
Interestingly, time outdoors had a stronger protective effect in children aged 6 years compared with kids aged 11 to 12 years enrolled in longitudinal studies. As the authors observed, ‘It is well known that the various ocular components undergo growth and maturation in younger children, and thus, the ocular growth patterns may be more sensitive to environmental influences, including outdoor time, during this period.’
However, significantly, for those who are already myopic, increased time outdoors did not alter the rate of progression of their condition. The authors suggest that further studies are needed to ‘confirm and determine the reasons for outdoor time not being effective for progression among myopes’.
They recommend that determining the ‘optimal duration and strategy to implement outdoor time as an intervention to control or delay the onset of myopia’ by evaluating the effect of outdoor time in various doses and utilizing objective measurements of time outdoors may further our understanding of role played by outdoors in onset and management of myopia.
The study was published online in Acta Ophthalmologica in February 2017. It is open access and can be viewed here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aos.13403/full
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1. Xiong, S., Sankaridurg, P., Naduvilath, T., Zang, J., Zou, H., Zhu, J., Lv, M., He, X. and Xu, X. (2017), Time spent in outdoor activities in relation to myopia prevention and control: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Acta Ophthalmol. doi:10.1111/aos.13403