Exposure to daylight may prevent myopia

A lack of exposure to sunlight, rather than watching too much television or playing computer games, causes myopia in children, a new study has claimed.

Researchers in Australia have reported that children need to spend at least two to three hours a day outside in direct sunlight to avoid becoming short-sighted.

The results of the study from the Australia Research Council found that exposure to bright light can help regulate the growth of the eyeball during childhood, significantly lowering the risk of myopia.

Carried out by researchers at the Australian National University and Sydney University, the study compared the eyesight of Chinese Australian and Singaporean children and discovered that 30% of children in Singapore needed spectacles compared to 3% of Chinese Australians.

Both groups spent the same amount of time watching television, playing computer games and reading, but whilst children in Singapore spent on average 30 minutes a day outside those in Australia spent around two hours.

Professor Ian Morgan, lead researcher on the study, commented: “We’re seeing large increases in myopia among children in urban societies all around the world – and the outstanding common factor may be less and less time spent outdoors.

“Humans are naturally slightly long-sighted. We see that in rural populations all round the world. But when you start intensive schooling, and spend little or no time outdoors, you get this dramatic rise in myopia. In some East Asian cities 80-90% of children are affected – and governments and the World Health Organisation are very worried out it.”

The Sydney Myopia Study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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