Eye Hospital

New evidence suggests that children who spend more time outside in daylight may be less likely to develop nearsightedness. According to research, the percentage of Americans aged 12-54 who suffer from myopia has increased over the last 45 years. The figure has risen from 25% in early 1970 to 41.6 percent today. Myopia is also known as nearsightedness or the inability to see objects in the distance. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the National Eye Institute, by the end of 2050, half of the world’s population will be “nearsighted.”

Long-distance vision was important for our forefathers long ago when they relied on their eyesight to hunt for food or watch for the enemy. They also spent most of their waking hours outside in the sun. If myopia was strictly genetic, those with poor long-distance vision would have died out long ago, and myopia would be a thing of the past. Our children are developing myopia at a younger age than ever before, leading one to wonder “what” is different today compared to several hundred years ago or even 45 years ago.

Myopia can always be blamed on genetics, but a bigger culprit is not spending enough time outside in natural light. Computers, iPads, television, reading, and studying consume a large portion of our time, so our eyes (and bodies) spend far less time outside. It certainly doesn’t help when schools reduce recess time for our children.

Dr. Christopher Starr, an ophthalmologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, recommends spending one to three extra hours per day outside. This is in addition to recess at school. Dopamine, a known inhibitor of eye growth whose release is stimulated by light, prevents elongation of the eye, according to Dr. Starr. Dopamine deficiency causes the eye to become more elongated, resulting in nearsightedness.

Bright outdoor light, according to researchers, helps children’s developing eyes maintain the proper distance between the lens and the retina, which keeps vision in focus. Indoor lighting that is dim does not appear to provide the same level of feedback. As a result of spending too much time inside, children’s eyes fail to grow properly, and the distance between the lens and the retina becomes too long, causing distant objects to appear blurry.

Consider the following from “More Time Outside May Reduce Kids’ Risk of Nearsightedness,” published in the August 2014 issue of the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

*Myopia is increased by studying and reading, but children who participated in fewer outdoor sports had more cases of myopia.

*Children who had two myopic parents were more likely to develop myopia themselves. If they did not participate in sports, their chances increased significantly.

*Kids who did not have myopic parents and spent a lot of time outside had the lowest risk of all youth.

*When children were given 80 minutes of recess during the school day, they became less nearsighted than children who were not required to spend recess outside. Many parents are already concerned about the school day’s lack of recess time. Recess is a right, and our children’s eyesight now depends on it.

*Finally, one study found that for every hour more children spend outside per week, their risk of being nearsighted decreased by 2%.

A young person does not need to participate in sports or stare at the sun to reap the benefits of sunlight. Scientists believe that general outdoor exposure will be effective, as long as UV blocking sunglasses and hats are worn. Nearsightedness is not caused by studying or reading. It is the absence of outside time that causes this. Being indoors means spending less time outdoors. The increase in outside time is crucial.

Remember that every time we expose our eyes to the sun without protection, we risk damaging them. Too much UV exposure without protective eyewear raises the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts, eye growths, and cancer. These diseases develop over time. As a result, babies and children should wear hats and sunglasses as often as possible. Form the habit while they are still young. Sun damage can occur at any time of year, including on cloudy days. Sunlight reflected off snow can also cause painful burns. Everyone should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.

At Dr Kamdar Eye Hospital, we are committed to providing our patients with professional, high-quality services, as well as a safer environment, a better experience, and the assurance of living a lovely life with improved eyesight.

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