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Outdoor recess time can reduce the risk of nearsightedness in children
Date:5/1/2013

SAN FRANCISCO May 1, 2013 Two new studies add to the growing evidence that spending time outdoors may help prevent or minimize nearsightedness in children. A study conducted in Taiwan, which is the first to use an educational policy as a public vision health intervention, finds that when children are required to spend recess time outdoors, their risk of nearsightedness is reduced. A separate study in Danish children is the first to show a direct correlation between seasonal fluctuations in daylight, eye growth and the rate of nearsightedness progression. The research was published in the May issue of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Nearsightedness in childhood is correctable, but is also linked to development of severe forms of this eye disorder in adulthood, which increases risks for potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma and retinal detachment. Research on nearsightedness, also called myopia, is intensifying as the condition nears epidemic status in Asia and other regions, primarily in developed countries. In the United States nearsightedness has increased by more than 65 percent since 1970. Though myopia is often inherited, researchers are now assessing environmental factors to help explain why myopia rates are rising so rapidly in some populations.

In one of the new studies, an elementary school in Taiwan required its 333 students to spend recess outdoors for a year from 2009-10 so that researchers could learn whether this would reduce myopia rates. A similar school nearby served as the control group and did not require outdoor recess. The children in the intervention school, many of whom had formerly spent recess indoors, now spent a total of 80 minutes per day outdoors.

Students at both schools received eye exams at the study outset and one year later. The results showed that significantly fewer children became nearsighted or shifted toward nearsightedness in the school t
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
415-447-0221
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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