Nowadays, both adults and small children spend a lot of time in front of digital screens. Did you know that there is twice as much myopia among young people than there was twenty years ago? Playing outside can have a positive impact on children's vision: several studies have shown that those who spend a lot of time outdoors are less myopic than others. Playing outside can help reduce the progression of myopia by 30 to 40%!
What is myopia?
A person with myopia has difficulty seeing at a distance. Their eyes are more elongated than the average person, and this creates a distance between the cornea and the retina that is too big. The image formed by the eye cannot reach the back of the retina, which prevents the person from seeing objects at a distance clearly. At school, for example, a child with myopia will have difficulty reading the board, which can have an impact on his/her learning if myopia is not corrected. However, the consequences of myopia go beyond vision. Myopic people are at greater risk for eye health problems, such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.
Decrease the Progression of Myopia by Playing Outside
Heredity can increase the risk of myopia, but it is mostly influenced by lifestyle, especially among young children in primary school. Children who play outside between 40 and 90 minutes per day are less myopic than those who stay indoors, according to some studies from the Québec Association of Optometrists. Spending time outdoors helps prevent myopia, as well as reducing its progression. Outdoor activities require far vision, unlike those indoors.
Prolonged use of digital screens is also known to cause myopia. Spending a lot of time staring at a screen without pause can be harmful to long-term vision and increase the risk of myopia. We tend to look at computer screens and tablets very closely, which can tire out eyes quickly. By being exposed to the light of day, children spend time away from computers and tablets, and are therefore less at risk of developing myopia.
Sunlight also has beneficial effects for the eyes because it stimulates the production of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that controls the growth of the eye, preventing it from growing longer. However, it is important to wear sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Even while wearing sunglasses, the benefits of the sunlight will be preserved.
What do optometrists recommend?
According to optometrists' recommendations, children under the age of two should not use electronic devices that need to be watched closely, such as tablets or computer screens. Before they reach the age of ten, they should use them for a maximum of one hour a day, to avoid tiring their eyes.
Optometrists also recommend spending time outdoors to be exposed to sunlight to maintain good vision, both in summer and winter. All outdoor activities are good to prevent myopia whether it is walking, swimming, skiing, or playing soccer. Walking to school is also a good habit, in order to spend more time outdoors. To encourage your children to go outside, take some time to review a list of outdoor activity ideas. And, since outdoor activity is also good for your own eyes, why not accompany them?
There are many good reasons to spend more time outdoors. In addition to improving vision, playing outdoors is good for your mood and helps to better manage stress. To learn more about myopia and how to reduce its progression make an appointment with your optometrist at your nearest IRIS store.