Children should get outside to benefit their sight

Post on 16th February 2017

An increasing number of children are developing short-sightedness because they don’t go outside enough, new research has suggested.

It’s not always easy encouraging youngsters to go out to play or to discover a world outdoors away from the indoor pursuits of looking at computers, smartphones and TV screens. So perhaps the notion that wearing specs is the alternative will persuade more children to see the benefits of getting outside.

Twenty percent of children have myopia today compared with just ten percent in the 1960s. Some experts believe myopia should be declared a serious threat to public health as people spend too much time staring at screens.

A report from University College London found that 27 percent of adults and 20 percent of teens under 16 now suffer from short-sightedness. Researchers also found 54 percent of over 40s have refractive errors – eyeball distortions that cause blurred vision.

By spending more time indoors to watch television, tablets and smart phones rather than being outdoors in the sun, means less exposure to UV light, which could help reduce the risk of developing sight issues. The brightness of the light children are exposed to is important in co-ordinating growth. Daylight is far stronger than indoor light and it stimulates dopamine release from nerves in the eye. Dopamine may control eyeball growth, helping keep it the right length.

A study from Kings College London conducted in 2016 also found that spending more time outside, particularly in younger life, reduces your chance of developing short-sightedness.

Many of us already appreciate that being in the fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul and your well-being. Now it’s just a case of spreading the message so that younger people will see that spending time outdoors has other positive outcomes too.

For advice on eye care and help with sight issues, please call into your local Scrivens branch.