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Spending Time Outside Could Actually Protect Kids’ Sight

kids outside fishing
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

A new review of previous research indicates that there could be a correlation between the amount of time children spend outside and nearsightedness.

Researchers analyzed the results of eight different studies, involving more than 10,000 participants, and found that children who are nearsighted spend an average of 3.7 fewer hours a week outside than children with normal vision.

Nearsightedness is a genetic disorder that has also been linked with the amount of time a child spends reading and a lack of physical activity, but these studies seem to show that time spent outdoors could be protecting kids’ eyesight.

For example, one study compared Chinese children living in different countries and found that, on average, those in Australia had better vision than their counterparts in China and Singapore. According to the study, the Australian children read as much and achieved as much academically as the others, but also tended to spend more time outside.

Researcher Dr. Sherwin, who analyzed the studies, said the benefit of being outside could be linked to exposure to ultraviolet rays. He also said nearsightedness “could be caused by not enough UV radiation, but it could also be spending less time looking into the distance or not enough physical activity.”

Findings were presented to the American Academy of Ophthalmology on Monday.


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