A new study has shown that kids who spend more time on outdoor activities have fewer chances of developing myopia.
A group of Chinese researchers have found that kids who chose to spend 40 additional minutes playing outdoors, on a daily basis, for three (3) years, reduced their risk of developing poor eye sight. The overall rate of myopia among these subjects went down by 9.1 percent (9.1%).
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is defined as a condition where patients are able to see clearly when looking at objects that are close to them, but their vision gets blurry or hazy when looking at objects that sit in the distance. Field experts have estimated that about half of US kids are affected by this condition.
Dr. Mingguang He, researcher with the Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou, China) and lead author on the new study, offered a statement to CBS News stressing that “Myopia has reached epidemic levels in China and many countries in East Asia”. But so far “there is no effective intervention to prevent the development of myopia in children”.
For their study, Dr. He and his team examined the cases of about 1.900 kids from 12 different schools in the Guangzhou area. All of the subjects were first-graders when the study began, and the research team followed their development for three (3) years.
Half of the schools involved in the project were told to add an extra 40 minutes of outdoor time to their curriculum, on a daily basis. And on top of this, the parents of kids who studied at these schools were told to also encourage their little ones to spend more time on outdoor activities.
This was especially important during holidays and weekends, when there were no teachers to make sure the kids spend enough time outside.
The kids, parents and teachers from the other half of the schools were not asked to change anything in the kids’ daily routine.
At the end of the three (3) years, Dr. He and his team noticed that the kids who spent an extra 40 minutes of outdoor time had a 30.4 percent (30.4%) rate of myopia, whereas the kids who didn’t change anything in their daily routine had a39.5 percent (39.4%) rate of myopia.
The authors said in their study that the research “achieved an absolute difference of 9.1 percent (9.1%) in the incidence rate of myopia, representing a 23 percent (23%) relative reduction in incident myopia after 3 years”.
They went on to stress that although the reduction rate wasn’t quite as good as they had anticipated, it’s still important that we help as many kids as possible. Most of the individuals who develop myopia at a fragile age end up developing an even worse form of nearsightedness as they get older.
Dr. He gave some advice to schools that can’t afford to add an extra 40 minutes of outdoor activities to the day to day of it all. He said that they should at least make sure that their students go outside during recess.
He also warned mothers and fathers that kids who have one (1) myopic parent have a better chance of developing the condition than kids who have none, and that kids who have two (2) myopic parents have a better chance of developing the condition than kids who only have one (1).
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