During the past few entries, we have been discussing ways to control myopia progression. We have mentioned drops, glasses, and contacts. This entry will focus on things you can do at home. Over the past few years, several studies have indicated that extra time spent outdoors has played a part in reducing myopia. Now there are a few caveats, but we can agree that extra time spent exercising outdoors is good for a child’s overall health.
Age is important. Kindergarten to early elementary age groups tend to benefit the most from an extra hour or two a day outside. As the child ages, the benefits tend to decrease. Not to say once they become teenagers to never go outside, but it is just less critical.
Current prescription is worth noting. If a child is already myopic, then our other forms of treatment will show better results. We still encourage extra time outdoors in addition to the other treatments. If the child is emmetropic (no prescription), then some extra time outdoors can help prevent them from needing a prescription or at least prolong the time before they do. Our society promotes a lifestyle that lends itself toward myopia, and extra time outdoors can at least act as a buffer to keep a child from developing myopia.
One of the best examples of this is from a 1969 study of the Inuit people in northern Alaska (no link – you can search for that one if you are really interested). Of 131 adults who had lived in the remote villages with no formal education, only 2 of them had a myopic prescription. Compare that to over a 50% rate of myopia for their children and grandchildren who had received a formal education.
Clearly, education is needed to survive in this modern world, but it is also important to remember the simple things in life that don’t need a power supply. If you have any questions about myopia control or just need an eye exam, please call and schedule an appointment.