A new study has found that kids with poor eye sight could have avoided the issue by spending more time outside.
A team of researchers from China say that choosing to spend an additional 40 minutes outdoors each day, for three (3) consecutive years, reduces the rate of myopia among kids.
Myopia is also known as nearsightedness and defined as a condition that allows people to see close-up objects clearly, but distant objects are seen in a haze or blurred out. Field experts estimate that about half the kids in the US suffer from this condition.
Dr. Mingguang He, lead author on the study and researcher from Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou, China), gave a statement to CBS News warning that “Myopia has reached epidemic levels in China and many countries in East Asia”. But despite this “there is no effective intervention to prevent the development of myopia in children”.
For the study, Dr. He and his colleagues looked at about 1.900 subjects from 12 different schools near Sun Yat-sen University. They were all first-graders when the project started and the researchers followed them for three (3) years.
Six (6) of the participating schools were asked to add an additional 40 minutes of outdoor activities, on a daily basis. What’s more, the parents of kids going to these schools were also told to engage their little ones in outdoor activities, especially during holidays and weekends. The kids and parents from the remaining six (6) schools were not told to change anything about their typical daily routine.
The results showed that the rate of kids with myopia was 30.4 percent (30.4%) among subjects who spend an additional 40 minutes outdoors for three (3) years, and 39.5 percent (39.4%) among subjects who didn’t change anything about their typical daily routine.
Dr. He and his colleagues wrote in their study that their investigation “achieved an absolute difference of 9.1 percent in the incidence rate of myopia, representing a 23 percent relative reduction in incident myopia after 3 years”.
They stressed that even though the reduction rate was less than they anticipated, it’s still important to help as many kids as we can as most of those who develop myopia early in life experience an even more severe form of the condition as they get older.
Dr. He admitted that further research needs to be conducted in order to assess how significant the discovery is, but also added that it has real world implications and allows kids, parents and school staff to delay the onset of myopia in young people.
He advises schools that can’t add more outdoor activities to their curriculum, to at least take their students outside during recess. And parents should try to convince their kids to spend more time playing outside, especially if these kids have parents to suffer from myopia.
Kids with just one (1) myopic parent are more vulnerable to the condition than those with none, and kids two (2) myopic parents are more vulnerable to the condition than those with one (1).
The findings were published earlier this week, on Tuesday (September 15, 2015), in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Image Source: pixabay.com