Spending time outdoors could help your child’s eyesight.




There has been a massive rise around the globe in short-sightedness – or myopia as it’s officially known – over recent decades.

Kids seem to spend endless hours on smartphones, games consoles, computers and tablets these days. Playing on electronic devices certainly doesn’t help their waistlines, but do you ever wonder what regular device use is doing to their eyesight?

While there isn’t much research out there yet about the impact of screens on eyesight  after all the iPhone was first unveiled by Apple in only 2007 – experts are concerned about growing levels of short-sightedness in children.

Myopia has reached epidemic levels in East Asia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, where approaching 90% of 18-year-olds are now short-sighted.

In Europe, it’s potentially getting up to 40% to 50% of young adults in their mid-20s who are short-sighted now in Western Europe. It’s been gradually rising over the decades of the 20th Century from around 20-30%.

Annegret Dahlmann-Noor, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London says lack of natural light seems to be the key issue.

“The main factor seems to be a lack of exposure to direct sunlight, because children who study a lot and who use computers or smartphones or tablet computers a lot have less opportunity to run around outside and are less exposed to sunshine and because of that seem to be at more risk of developing short-sightedness.”

Chris Hammond, professor of ophthalmology at King’s College London and consultant ophthalmic surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital says,  “It may be that there’s no coincidence that in East Asian countries, the most myopic ones all correlate with the maths league tables.These kids are being pushed with very intensive education from a very young age and spend a lot of time indoors studying everything close up and very little time outdoors.Therefore the concern is that all close work – like playing with the iPad and iPhone – carries the potential that it could make them more short-sighted.”

SOLUTION:

  • The best thing to do, say the experts, is to get children playing outside as much as possible.
  • Dr Dahlmann-Noor says diet is also an area where families can help with eyesight.”We always tell parents about omega-3 essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, C and E and nutrients that are good for the back of the eye. “Healthy diet really is important – in terms of getting oily fish, avocados, green vegetables, green leafy vegetables as much as possible.
  • regular annual eye checks.

According to NHS Choices, signs that your child may be short-sighted include:

  • needing to sit near the front of the class at school because they find it difficult to read the whiteboard
  • sitting close to the television
  • complaining of headaches or tired eyes
  • regularly rubbing their eyes