Myopia on the rise in children increases the risk to get blind

One of the main causes is not enough outdoor play time 

Children spend less time outdoors year after year. This increases the risk on myopia (nearsightedness) significantly. This can even lead to blindness. 

Today in the news a big article in which professor Caroline Klaver, professor in ophthalmology warns for myopia and its effects. A myopia boom is happening in developed countries due to the fact that people stare at their screens and sit indoors all day. “In big cities in East Asia, more than 90% of the people in their twenties suffer of myopia. In Europe, this figure is 50%.”

5% of the people who suffer myopia (-6) have serious risks on significant damage of the eyes. Of these, one out of three gets visually impaired, with visibility of less than 30%. This means that thousands of people with myopia will become the blinds of tomorrow. Klaver adds: “we cannot do anything for these people who turn blind due to myopia”.

Prevention is key

What we can do now, is to prevent that children will get myopia. First of all, children should be outdoors for 2 hours a day as a minimum. The advantages of being outdoors for the eye development are numerous. Focusing on far away and nearby objects and the sunlight (level of light outside) is good for the eye development. This amount of light indoors is often much too low. Results in China show that groups of school children that play 40 minutes extra per day develop significantly less myopia.

What can I do?

Eye experts as Caroline Klaver advise the 20/20/2 rule of thumb to prevent myopia with young children. These 3 figures mean:

20 minutes is the maximum time that a child or teenager can do an activity in which it has to focus on something nearby, like a screen or a book. After 20 minutes, you really need to stop and take a break.

20 seconds is the minimum time period of this break. In these 20 seconds, you really need to do something else and focus on something far away.

2 hours is the minimum you have to spend outdoors per day. The daylight that your eyes get in these 2 hours, compensates for a large part the nearsighted activities.

Based on:

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