Preventing Nearsightedness with Outdoor Play

Summer break is almost here! Warmer weather, sunny days, and lots of time to play are right around the corner.  We know spending time outdoors and being active is good for our bodies. Did you also know that spending time outdoors in early childhood can help prevent nearsightedness (myopia)? That’s right! Play time outside can help reduce the risk of needing glasses or contacts later in life.

You might be asking, “Why is this so important? Isn’t nearsightedness common?” The fact is nearsightedness is becoming too common, and this presents some serious dangers.

Researchers project that nearly 50% of children will be nearsighted by the year 2050. Think about that, half of our children will be nearsighted. The commonly held belief has been that nearsightedness need only be treated with glasses or contacts. This is the old way. There is more to treating nearsightedness than simply getting you to 20/20 with glasses or contact. Just as technology improves our lives on a daily basis, (think about the iPhone you used 10 years ago compared to today) medical advancements are helping us treat common vision problems better. Not only are treatments better, but we are learning why it is so important to help prevent the progression of nearsightedness. The higher the amount of nearsightedness, the greater the risks of severe eye diseases. Higher amounts of nearsightedness can lead to an increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts. All these diseases can have significant and devastating permanent effects on vision. Left untreated they can even lead to blindness.

Here is the exciting part: THERE IS HOPE! Researchers are showing positive and simple ways to help prevent nearsightedness and minimize its progression. Studies show that young children who spend an average of two hours a day outdoors can help prevent the start of nearsightedness! That’s right stepping away from the laptop, iPad, or phone and enjoying the outdoors is good for your eyes! Of course, make sure you apply sunscreen, are wearing your sunglasses, and are rocking your favorite hat. Those pesky ultraviolet rays can cause their own vision problems.

If your child does become nearsighted or has started to develop nearsightedness we can still help! Specially designed glasses, contact lenses, or eye drops can help reduce the speed and severity of myopia progression. This can lead to lower amounts of nearsightedness, lower glasses prescriptions, and a better quality of life!

If you have moderate to high nearsightedness you know how difficult life can be. You know the frustration of not being able to see without glasses and/or contact lenses. Even being able to see your alarm clock or phone can be a struggle. What if you could turn back time and prevent your eyes from being as nearsighted as they are? What if your parents had the information we have today? I know we can’t go back, but we can pay it forward for future generations. We can prevent the same fate and slow the rate of nearsightedness in your child and the world!

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