Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

An Hour a Day Keeps Myopia at Bay

Increasing exposure to outdoor light can stave off an “epidemic” of short-sightedness among children, according to research published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (http://tinyurl.com/hqynqu2).

A/Prof Scott Read of Queensland University of Technology’s School of Optometry and Vision Science said that children need to spend more than an hour and preferably at least 2 hours per day outside to help prevent the development and progression of myopia. Read explained that it wasn’t “near work” on screens that caused myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light. While screens are leading children to spend more time indoors than in previous years, the research shows they are not the direct cause of the increased incidence of myopia.

The QUT study measured children’s eye growth, with study participants wearing wristwatch light sensors to record light exposure and physical activity for a fortnight during warmer and then colder months to give an overall measurement of their typical light exposure.

“Children exposed to the least outdoor light had faster eye growth and hence faster myopia progression,” Read said.

In February the Brien Holden Vision Institute predicted that half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050, with 10% of the world’s population at risk of blindness.