According to a study performed in Guangzhou, China, including a daily outdoor activity for three-year-old children resulted in a decrease in the occurrence of myopia, or nearsightedness (the inability to see distant objects as clearly as close ones). Scientists claim that further investigation is required to assess the long-term follow-up of these children and whether these findings can be generalized to other populations as well.

What Sunlight Do To Your Eyesight?

Myopia has become somewhat of an epidemic in young adults. Up to 90 percent of high school graduates from East and Southeast Asia are diagnosed with the condition, and the rates are increasing, spreading to Europe and the Middle East.

Intervention To See If Sunlight Could Be The Answer

Presently there is no effective treatment or management for preventing the onset of myopia. Recent studies suggest that spending time outdoors could prevent the disease from developing. Mingguang He, M.D., Ph.D., of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, along with colleagues performed a study on primary class children from 12 different schools in Guangzhou. The average age of the participating children was 6.6 years.

The schools were divided into two groups; six intervention schools consisting of 952 students and six control schools consisting of 951 students. The intervention schools were assigned a daily additional outdoor class of 40 minutes. Parents were also encouraged to participate in these activities after school hours, particularly on weekends and during holidays.

Interesting Findings For An Effective Regime

After three years of follow-ups, the cumulative incidence rate of myopia was found to be 30.4 percent in the intervention group and 39.5 percent in the control group – that’s 259 cases and 726 cases of myopia respectively. The myopic shift after three years, also known as cumulative change in spherical equivalent refraction, was significantly lower in the intervention group as well.

Statistically speaking, a difference of 9.1 percent was observed in the incidence rate of myopia between the intervention and control groups. This represents a 23 percent relative decrease in myopia after three years. Even though the latter is lesser than expected, the figures are clinically important since the earlier the children develop myopia, the higher are the risks of progression and pathological myopia.

“A delay in the onset of myopia in young children, who generally have higher rates of progression, could provide disproportionate long-term benefits for the eyes”, stated the authors.

Comments On The Research: Exposure To Sunlight Helps Brighten Your Eyesight

Michael X. Repka, M.D., M.B.A., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, commented on the findings of the study.

“Further investigations should include information about the content of the additional outdoor activity, whether the activity could be standardized, and how it is different from other studies. This information could help further studies in implementing an outdoor activity in their school settings. Establishing the long-term effect of an additional outdoor activity on the development and progression of myopia is significant because the intervention is essentially free and might also have other health benefits”.