Children should spend time outdoors to prevent myopia

Updated: Aug 03, 2012, 20:41 PM IST

London: Children who regularly play outdoors develop good eyesight with advancing age, a study has found.

Researchers have found that those kids who choose to hit the playground often are less likely to become short-sighted as teenagers, the `Daily Mail` reported.

Previous research has linked time spent outside with good eyesight but scientists were not been able to prove whether it was due to exercise or exposure to natural light.

Researchers from Bristol University and Cardiff University said their study was the first direct evidence of benefits of natural light to the eyes.

The study found that there was a close association between time spent outside and good vision, regardless of family history, how much time they spent reading or the child`s physical activity.

The team looked at eye tests from 7,000 children from South-West England who were examined at the age of seven, ten, 11, 12 and 15. They also monitored the children?s physical activity over a week.

Those who regularly spent time outdoors at the age of eight or nine were half as likely to be short-sighted by the time they were 15.

"We`re still not sure why being outdoors is good for children`s eyes, but given the other health benefits that we know about we would encourage children to spend plenty of time outside, although of course parents will still need to follow advice regarding UV exposure," lead author Dr Cathy Williams, of Bristol University was quoted as saying by the paper.

However, Williams said there was a need to find out how much time outside is needed to protect against short-sightedness, what age the protective effect of spending time outside is most marked and how the protective effect actually works.