For Better Vision, Tell Your Kids to Go Outside and Play

TIMELY NEWS: Too much sunshine can be bad for your eyes, yet not enough might make you more nearsighted. How’s that for a health and well-being Catch 22?

New studies show that people who spent a significant amount of time outside as a kid enjoy better eyesight as an adult. It has something to do with greater exposure to sunlight during childhood, although researchers haven’t figured out exactly how it all works.

Nearsightedness (myopia) is a condition in which close objects appear clear but distant objects are blurry. It affects about 40 percent of Americans and as many as 90 percent of young adults in Asian countries. A 2015 study estimated up to one-third of the world's population may be nearsighted by the end of the decade - that's 2.5 billion people. At that rate, experts predict that nearly half the world will be nearsighted by the year 2050.

“The big question is, what’s causing this?” asks Sandy T. Feldman MD, one of the nation’s top eye surgeons. “Turns out, it’s not that we’re spending too much time on our computers and phones. It’s that we’re spending too much time indoors.”

WHY IT’S A BIG DEAL: Two studies from 2007 and 2008 found that rates of nearsightedness in children appeared to be closely linked to the amount of time spent outdoors. A more recent study gave vision exams to 3,100 older European men and women and took detailed histories of their education, careers and how much time they spent outside throughout their lives. This information was cross-referenced with historical data about sunlight. The results? An undeniable correlation between current eyesight and a person’s lifetime exposure to sunlight.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but it’s clear is that the more time children spend outdoors, the lower their risk of nearsightedness,” advises Dr. Feldman. “Just don’t overdo it. Be sure to take precautions, like wearing sunscreen and sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Also, ty to avoid going out at mid-day, when damaging UV rays are strongest.”

WHO CAN TELL YOU MORE: Sandy Feldman MD, Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego.

CONTACT ME: I can arrange an interview with Dr. Feldman to discuss this or any other eye-related topic. Contact Diana Soltesz at [email protected] or 818-618-5634.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: Sandy T. Feldman, MD is the Medical Director of Clearview Eye & Laser Medical Center - voted best LASIK center in San Diego by the San Diego Union Tribune (2016 and 2017) and CityBeat Magazine two years in a row. Her numerous awards include “Top Doc San Diego” and the Goldline Award, an honor granted to only 10 laser eye care providers in the U.S. each year. She has also been profiled in Forbes, Newsweek, and other respected publications. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the prestigious American College of Ophthalmic Surgeons, as well as a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. She has successfully performed more than 20,000 refractive procedures. For more information, visit clearvieweyes.com.

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