Study finds that increasing time children spend outside could reduce their risk of developing eyesight problems.
There are certainly health benefits associated with children spending more time playing outdoors, however a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported a reduction in the development of myopia, or near-sightedness, in children who spent more time playing outside.
Researchers set out to determine whether increasing the amount of time children spent outdoors at school would have an effect on the development of myopia. Children in grade one from 12 primary schools located in China were included in the study. The study included 2 study groups; six of the schools added one 40 minute class of outdoor activities to each school day, with parents also encouraged to promote outdoor activity at home, while children at another 6 schools were maintained on their usual activity levels.
The study reported that 30.4% of children who spent increased time outside went on to develop myopia, compared to 39.5% of children who did not change their pattern of outdoor activity. The authors conclude that amongst this group of children, increasing outdoor activity by 40 minutes per day reduced the rate of developing myopia within the following 3 years. The authors suggest that the study provides enough evidence to justify further, long-term study into the role outdoor play has on children’s eyesight.
Mingguang He, Fan Xiang, Yangfa Zeng, Jincheng Mai, Qianyun Chen, Jian Zhang, Wayne Smith, MD, Kathryn Rose, Ian G. Morgan.“Effect of Time Spent Outdoors at School on the Development of Myopia Among Children in China : A Randomized Clinical Trial” JAMA. 2015;314(11):1142-1148. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.10803.
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD