Ground breaking research by Australian optometrists has revealed that increasing exposure to outdoor light is the key to reducing the myopia (nearsightedness) epidemic in children.
The QUT study measured children’s eye growth via study participants wearing wristwatch light sensors to record light exposure and physical activity for a fortnight during warmer 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,” Professor Read said.
Director of research at QUT’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, Associate Professor Scott Read, said that children should be spending at least an hour and preferably two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing.
Speaking at the Australian Vision Convention in Queensland, Read explained it is not ‘near work’ on computer and other devices causing myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light. While screens are contributing to children spending more time indoors than in previous years, the research shows they are not the direct cause of the increased incidence of myopia. “Optometrists need to make their patients aware that less than 60 minutes’ exposure to light outdoors per day is a risk factor for myopia,” he said.
In February, it was announced that half the world’s population will be short-sighted by 2050 with many at risk of blindness. The global study, published by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, predicts that 10 per cent of the world’s population will be at risk of blindness by 2050 if steps aren’t taken to stop the progression of myopia.