Accessibility View Close toolbar

Does Outside Playtime Improve Children's Eyesight?

Girl on grass.

Does Outside Play Improve Children's Eyesight?

Do you see many children playing outside when you drive home from work? Although kids once spent long periods of time outdoors in previous generations, today's youth are less likely to enjoy spontaneous games of hide and seek or kickball. In fact, parents of eight to 12 year olds reported that their kids spend three times as much time using computers and watching TV as they do playing outside, according to The Nature of Americans National Report. Unfortunately, lack of outdoor time can make it hard to see clearly.

What Happens When Kids Spend Less Time Outdoors?

Lack of exposure to sunlight has been linked to an increased incidence of myopia in children. Myopia, commonly called nearsightedness, makes it difficult to see near objects clearly without prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. The refractive error occurs when the eye becomes too long from the front to the back. As a result, light rays don't focus directly on the retina, but in front of it.

Although wearing glasses has always been a part of childhood for some children, myopia rates have been increasing lately. Genetics certainly plays a role in myopia. Children of myopic parents are more likely to develop myopia themselves, but inheritance isn't necessarily the sole cause of nearsightedness. Close work, like reading or working on computers for hours at a time, may increase the chance that a child will develop the refractive error.

In most cases, myopia is merely an inconvenience, but it can cause other eye problems in adulthood if it's severe. Retinal tears, cataracts, retinal and vitreous detachments, glaucoma and macular degeneration may be more likely to occur if you need corrective lenses greater than 5 diopters.

Myopia Rates Are on the Rise

In the past, myopia rates remained fairly steady, but that's changed in the last several decades. Myopia cases increased by 66 percent from 1971-72 and 1999-2004, according to a National Eye Institute Research Study. Researchers believe that the increase is due to fewer hours spent outdoors and increased reliance on digital devices, like smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Spending Time Outdoors Offers a Simple Solution

Increasing outdoor exposure can have a very beneficial effect on kids' eyes. Chinese children who spent an additional 40 minutes outdoors every day experienced a lower level of myopia when compared to their classmates who remained indoors. Another study determined that children who have myopic parents but spend 14 hours outside weekly have the same risk of developing nearsightedness as peers whose parents aren't myopic.

Although it may not be possible to prevent every case of myopia, you can reduce your child's chances of becoming nearsighted by:

  • Encouraging More Outdoor Time. Spending an hour or two outdoors every day is a simple way to protect your child's vision.
  • Limiting Digital Devices. Reducing the time your child spends playing games or surfing the Internet not only offers protection against myopia, but also prevents painful back and neck pain that can occur when your son or daughter bends his or her neck to view digital devices.
  • Requiring Frequent Breaks. Whether your child is an avid reader or gamer, ask him or her to take breaks every half hour for at least 20 minutes. Breaks are the perfect time to spend a little time outdoors.
  • Provide Foods That Nourish the Eyes. Foods that offer vitamins A, C, E or other nutrients necessary for good vision can help your child reduce his or her risk of developing several eye disease and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Vision-friendly foods include carrots, peppers, whole grains, dairy products, salmon, citrus fruits, blueberries, spinach and other dark, leafy vegetables.

Increased outdoor time, reduced reliance on digital devices and regular visits to the optometrist can help you protect your child's vision. If it's time for a vision exam, or your son or daughter has been complaining of blurred vision, headaches or eyestrain, call us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Yale Environment 360: U.S. Study Shows Widening Disconnect with Nature, and Potential Solutions, 4/27/17

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/u-s-study-shows-widening-disconnect-with-nature-and-potential-solutions

CNN: Outdoor Playtime Might Help Kids Eyesight, 10/3/17

https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/03/health/eyesight-play-outdoors-partner/index.html

Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science: Early Childhood Refractive Error and Parental History of Myopia as Predictors of Myopia, 1/10

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2869059/

20/20: Controlling Myopia in Children, 8/14

https://www.2020mag.com/article/controlling-myopia-in-children

JAMA Network: Additional Time Spent Outdoors by Children Results in Decreased Rate of Developing Nearsightedness, 9/15/15

https://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/additional-time-spent-outdoors-by-children-results-in-decreased-rate-of-developing-nearsightedness/

National Eye Institute: Myopia Increases in the U.S. Population, 2/17/10

https://nei.nih.gov/news/briefs/myopia

Contact Us

We look forward to hearing from you.

No form settings found. Please configure it.

Office Hours

Monday:

8:00am

5:00pm

Tuesday:

8:00am

5:00pm

Wednesday:

8:00am

3:00pm

Thursday:

Closed

Closed

Friday:

8:00am

3:00pm

Saturday:

8:00am 1st and 3rd Saturday Only

12:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Testimonials coming soon..."

Featured Articles

Read up on informative topics

  • Does Outside Playtime Improve Children's Eyesight?

    Have you ever wondered why some people become nearsighted? Lack of time in the sun may be to blame. ...

    Read More
  • What Happens When You Don't Wear Sunglasses?

    Have you lost your sunglasses again? Failing to wear the glasses consistently may lead to several eye conditions. ...

    Read More
  • Curbing Macular Degeneration

    Macular degeneration represents one of the most significant causes of vision loss in older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.8 million people currently suffer from macular degeneration, with an additional 7.3 million people at risk of developing this ...

    Read More
  • Premature Babies and Vision Problems

    Prematurity can cause a range of vision problems. Fortunately, optometrists offer a range of treatments and devices that can improve your child's ability to see. ...

    Read More
  • What Do Your Eyes Say About Your Health?

    Subtle changes in your eyes may be the first signs of a health problem. ...

    Read More
  • Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

    Does your cosmetics make your eyes water and burn? Try these makeup tips for sensitive eyes. ...

    Read More
  • How to Clean Your Eyeglasses

    Do you know how to clean your eyeglasses correctly? Take a look a few tips that will keep your specs cleaner. ...

    Read More
  • All About Amblyopia

    Amblyopia, also known as lazy eye, is a visual disorder caused by abnormal vision development, often occurring during infancy. Patients with amblyopia have reduced vision in one eye, because it is not working properly in conjunction with the brain. With early detection and proper treatment, loss of ...

    Read More
  • All About Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is a serious disorder that can damage the optic nerves of your eyes if left untreated. The optic nerve carries images from your eyes to your brain. If the nerve is damaged, full or partial vision loss can occur. In some cases, people develop glaucoma because the pressure in their eyes begins ...

    Read More
  • Binocular Vision: Disorders and Treatment

    For many, the term binocular vision conjures images of super powers or the rare ability to spot objects far away, but having binocular vision simply means having two eyes with which to see. Binocular vision does lend creatures with two eyes advantages over those with only one, such as enhanced vision, ...

    Read More

Newsletter Sign Up

No form settings found. Please configure it.