FRIDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Being outdoors at recess and
increased exposure to sunlight both reduce children's risk of
nearsightedness (myopia), two new studies suggest.
The first study, published in the May issue of the journal
Ophthalmology, included nearly 350 students at two
elementary schools in Taiwan. Students at one school had to spend
recess outdoors for the 2009-2010 school year while students at the
other school did not have to go outside for recess.
Eye exams were given to students at both schools at the start
and end of the school year. Compared to those at the control
school, students at the school that required outdoor recess were
far less likely to become nearsighted or to shift toward
The children at the school with mandatory outdoor recess spent a
total of 80 minutes a day outdoors. Previously, many of them had
spent recess indoors.
Elementary schools should include frequent recess breaks and
other outdoor activities in their daily schedules to help protect
children's eye development and vision, the researchers said.
"Because children spend a lot of time in school, a school-based
intervention is a direct and practical way to tackle the increasing
prevalence of myopia," study leader Dr. Pei-Chang Wu, of Kaohsiung
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, in Taiwan, said in a journal news
In another study published in the same issue of the journal,
researchers concluded that increased exposure to sunlight slows the
progression of nearsightedness in youngsters. It included nearly
250 Danish school children with myopia. The greater the children's
amount of sunlight exposure, the slower the progression of their
"Our results indicate that exposure to daylight helps protect
children from myopia," study leader Dr. Dongmei Cui, of Sun Yat-sen
University in China, said in the news release. "This means that
parents and others who manage children's time should encourage them
to spend time outdoors daily. When that's impractical due to
weather or other factors, use of daylight-spectrum indoor lights
should be considered as a way to minimize myopia."
The U.S. National Eye Institute has more about