The less time kids spend outdoors, the more likely they are to have myopia, or nearsightedness. This according to a recent analysis of eight previous studies conducted by University of Cambridge researchers that found that for each additional hour spent outside per week, a child's risk of developing myopia reduced by 2 percent.
The studies involved more than 10,000 children and adolescents. Lead researcher, Dr. Justin Sherwin and his team concluded that nearsighted children spent an average of 3.7 fewer hours per week outdoors than those whose vision was either normal or farsighted (when distance vision is better than close vision.)
What's the connection between vision and outdoor play? As usual, the researchers can't really predict with certainty but there is at least one theory that may hold some water. Kids who spend more time outdoors spend more time looking at distant objects - that tree in the distance, the bank on the other side of the pond, or even their friends over on the other side of the playground. Another theory is that exposure to natural light may improve a child's distance vision. Researchers also suggested that children who spend more time outdoors are likely to spend less time doing activities that involved close vision like reading, coloring, or playing computer games.
Personally, I would beg to differ on that last theory. But it certainly is interesting that outdoor play can have such a profound effect on vision.
Researchers are presenting their findings at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in Florida.