The results of a recent study suggest that children who are required to spend their recess time outside may have a reduced risk of nearsightedness.
The study, published in the May 2013 issue of Ophthalmology, was the first to use an educational policy as a public vision health intervention in Taiwan and adds to previous research on the relationship between time spent outside and nearsightedness.
All 333 students in an elementary school in Taiwan were required to spend their recess time outside from 2009 to 2010. Children spent a total of 80 minutes outside per day. Another elementary school in the area did not require outdoor recess and served as the control group. Students of both schools received eye exams at the beginning of the study and a year later at the study’s end.
The researchers found that significantly fewer children became nearsighted or were on their way to becoming nearsighted in the school that required outdoor recess compared with the control group. The authors suggest that elementary schools in Asia, where nearsightedness is a serious problem, add outdoor recess breaks and other activities throughout the day to protect their vision.
“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,” said the leader of the study, Pei-Chang Wu, MD, PhD, in a press release.