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Can time spent outdoors influence myopia control?

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Recent studies have revealed the impact which Covid lockdowns have had on children's eyesight, with factors including increased screen time and a reduction in time spent outdoors leading to a rise in those diagnosed with myopia. Can the reverse be true? Is it possible for time spent outdoors to help with myopia control?

It appears that the answer is yes. One 2019 review concluded that

“there is a slightly lower risk of myopia onset and myopic shift with more hours of outdoor activities.” [1]

These findings were supported by a 2021 study which found a statistically significant correlation between time spent outdoors and myopia, with each hour extra spent outdoors having "a protective effect on the progression of myopia." [2]

Spending time outdoors will help stave off the onset of myopia, but the effects will reduce once myopia has started. However, time outdoors also means less near work or time on smartphones.

That study also commented that increased outdoor time may be a simple strategy to reduce myopia progression. However, that doesn't mean that this should be the only strategy. Regular eye checks can help to pick up myopia in its early stages. In turn, this will enable opticians to put in place a myopia management plan, including the use of corrective lenses, to slow down the progression of childhood myopia.

If you're a parent whose child has been diagnosed with myopia or if they are struggling with their distance vision, we hope you found MyopiaFocus helpful. Please join our community or sign our petition to get the government and NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease/severe ocular condition and fund myopia management for children.

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