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The Effect of Outdoor Time on Our Vision and Preventing Myopia

Your mom might actually be right when she tells you to drop the remote control and to head outside. Studies have shown that individuals who spend more time indoors tend to develop vision problems linked to myopia. Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, occurs when the distance between the cornea and the retina is too long. As a result, images are unable to focus directly on the retina of the eye, which leads to the inability to see objects from far away. Currently, more than 95% of individuals, specifically teenagers and children who have myopia, have to wear glasses to correct it.

In a study conducted by Mike Yang, an optometrist who led the study at Canada’s Centre for Contact Lens Research, he examined the eyes of 166 eighth grade students. He found that 29% of middle school students were myopic, a stark contrast from the 6% of myopic students in first grade. In addition, parents of those middle school students indicated how long their children spend time outside.

glasses-350684_1280The results revealed that as students get older, they often become myopic due to the lack of time spent outside. Previous research proposed the idea that the prevalence of books, smartphones, and video screens in teenager’s lives causes this condition. Considering the fact that the teenage years are often associated with hormonal changes and biological development, teenagers also may often prefer to stay indoors.

Yang also found shocking discoveries in other studies that emphasized how myopia is becoming apparent in children as young as six or seven years old. These discoveries pinpoint the inevitable risk of how children today will experience a “greater decline in their eyesight over time when compared to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.” With implications surrounding how technological advances influence our modern world, it would be intriguing to see how they may be a contributing factor.

The question still remains as to why outdoor time has a great impact on our eyes. Yang concluded that this might be because natural light from the outdoors tends to be significantly brighter than artificial light. With more available light, our eyes see objects more clearly and have greater opportunity to focus things from afar. His results ultimately indicated that the risk of developing myopia decreases 14% after spending an additional hour outside.

So there you have it – your mother may actually be correct in advising you to go outside. In today’s modern world, we often find it necessary to unplug from screens. Who knows? You might see the real world for what it is rather than the one you may see on a computer screen.

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Editor: Sydney Korsunsky