As a kid, the best part of my day was playing outside during recess. Did you know that recess may help prevent myopia?
Myopia (nearsightedness) is a problem which is becoming increasingly common. 50% of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050. When people are very nearsighted, they can develop serious eye problems such as retinal detachment and bleeding in the macula. So how can playing outside prevent myopia?
A randomized, controlled trial of 693 Taiwanese first-graders compared two groups of students: 1) students who spent at least 11 hours/week outside (outdoor recess) and 2) students who spent that time indoors. After one year, the students who played outside had less nearsightedness (0.35 diopter) and 54% lower risk of rapid myopia progression! *
No one knows precisely why outdoor activities may help. One theory is that kids outside will use their eyes to see faraway objects - and not just screens and cell phones. Another theory is that sunlight itself is somehow protective.
Promoting outdoor activity in children is important to fighting obesity and preventing diabetes. Fighting myopia is yet another reason to have kids play outside!
Did you also love recess growing up?
* Ophthalmology. 2018 Aug;125(8):1239-1250.