An hour a day keeps myopia at bay

Ground-breaking new research confirms role of outdoor light in reducing short-sightedness in children.

Increasing exposure to outdoor light is the key to reducing the myopia (short-sightedness) epidemic in children, according to ground-breaking new research by Australian optometrists.

Optometrist and lead researcher on the project, Associate Professor Scott Read, who is the director of research at QUT’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, said that children need to spend more than an hour and preferably at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing.

Assoc. Prof. Read explained it was not ‘near work’ on computer and other screens causing myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light.  While screens are contributing to children spending more time indoors than in previous years, the research shows they are not the direct cause of the increased incidence of myopia.

It seems that less than 60 minutes exposure per day to light outdoors is a risk factor for myopia. The research also indicates that even for those with myopia already, increasing time outside is likely to reduce progression.

This finding is encouraging as we strive to slow the growing rate of myopia in children.

In early 2016, it was announced that half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050 with many at risk of blindness. The global study, published by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, forecasts that 10 per cent of the world’s population will be at risk of blindness by 2050 if steps aren’t taken to stop myopia turning into high myopia (requiring glasses with a prescription of minus 5 or stronger).

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