Outdoor Play Prevents Nearsighted Vision

If you let your children get plenty of play outdoors they may never need glasses for nearsightedness. Nearsightedness, (myopia), is very common. Nearsighted school children are often assigned seats in the front of the classroom and usually need to wear glasses to see distant objects clearly. It is estimated that nearsightedness affects 42 percent of the people in the United States.

A research team in Cambridge England analyzed data from eight other studies that examined the amount of time children spent playing outside and correlated that with the prevalence of myopia. More than 10,000 children were examined in these studies.

It was discovered that the more time a child spent outdoors the less likely they were to develop myopia. Nearsighted children spend on average 4 hours less per week outdoors compared with normal-sighted children. For each additional hour spent outdoors per week there was a 2% decrease in myopia.

Playing video games and other computer tasks did not contribute to myopia if sufficient time was also spent playing outdoors. The exact protective mechanism of outdoor play is not known but it may be due to exposure to natural light or time spent in focusing the eyes on distant objects.

Ellen White, a 19th century health reformer, recognized the importance of outdoor play for children more than a hundred years ago. She wrote, “Dress your children neatly in simple clothing, and allow them to spend much time out-of-doors. … By playing in the sunshine and the fresh air, children will gain health and strength of mind and body. They will be benefited both spiritually and physically.” (Bible Echo, February 23, 1903)