Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Time Outside May Reduce Nearsightedness in Kids

Spending More Time Outdoors May Lessen the Risk of Myopia in Children
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 3, 2012 -- Spending more time outside may help protect children's eyesight.

New research suggests that increasing the amount of time children spend outdoors may reduce the risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness.

Nearsightedness is a common vision problem in which objects in the distance appear blurred and out of focus. The condition can usually be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or eye surgery.

Although nearsightedness is easily corrected, researchers say there is currently no widely used method to reduce the risk of developing the condition or slow its progression.

Researchers say that encouraging children to spend more time outside may be a new way to protect their eyesight and reduce the risk of myopia. Their findings would need to be confirmed by further studies.

The results also suggest that environmental factors, like the amount of time spent in front of TVs or reading books, may help explain rising rates of myopia in certain groups.

"Even though a substantial proportion of myopia cases can be explained by inheritance, this does not exclude strong environmental influences being the driving force behind the rapid increases in the prevalence of myopia over time, especially in East Asia," researcher Justin Sherwin, of the University of Cambridge in the U.K., and colleagues write in Ophthalmology.

Outside Time Protects Eyes

In the study, researchers reviewed a total of 23 studies on myopia in children and teens up to 20 years old.

Using information from seven studies that included population-wide data on the risk of nearsightedness, they estimated the impact of spending time outdoors on the risk of myopia.

"We found a significant protective association between increasing time spent outdoors and prevalent myopia in nearly 10,000 children and adolescents," write the researchers. "Each increase in hours per week of time spent outdoors was associated with a 2% reduced odds of myopia."

Another three studies that followed children over time showed that increasing the amount of time they spent outdoors slowed the progression of myopia.

"The overall findings indicate that increasing time spent outdoors may be a simple strategy by which to reduce the risk of developing myopia and its progression in children and adolescents," they write.

Today on WebMD

Woman holding tissue to reddened eye
Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Simple annoyance or the sign of a problem?
red eyes
Symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
blue eye with contact lens
Tips for wearing and caring.
Understanding Stye
human eye
eye exam timing
vision test
is vision correction surgery for you
high tech contacts
eye drop