More Time Outdoors May Reduce Kids' Risk of Nearsightedness
Encouraging children to spend more time outdoors may be a simple and cost-effective way to improve their vision as well as general health, according to several recent studies.
They add to the growing evidence that spending time outdoors may lower the risk of nearsightedness in children and adolescents. Nearsightedness is more common today in the United States and many other countries than it was in the 1970s.
One of the new studies showed that for each additional hour children spent outdoors per week, their risk of being nearsighted dropped by about two percent. Nearsighted children in this study spent on average 3.7 fewer hours per week outdoors than those who either had normal vision or were farsighted. The study investigated whether children who logged more outdoor time also spent less time performing near work, such as playing computer games or studying, but no such relationship was found.
A second study found that when schoolchildren were required to spend 80 minutes of recess time outdoors every day, fewer of them became nearsighted when compared to children who were not required to spend recess outdoors. Another study, with Danish children, was the first to show that the rate of eye growth varies in relation to exposure to daylight. This is important, because if the eye grows too long, as measured from front to back, the child will be nearsighted. The children’s eyes grew normally during the long days of summer in Denmark, but grew too fast during the short days of winter.
Though researchers don’t yet know exactly why outdoor time is beneficial, they think it’s probably related to exposure to daylight rather than to playing sports or other specific activities.
What Parents Need to Know about Pink Eye
Each year, conjunctivitis is the cause for many missed school days. In general, conjunctivitis remains contagious as long as the eye tears and produces discharge. Once these symptoms are gone, it’s safe for the child to return to school or child care. Some schools may require a certain wait period before the child can return.
Pink eye symptoms usually improve in three to seven days, but some viral infections can last up to 2 weeks. Take your child to an ophthalmologist to ensure they get proper treatment.
Good hygiene – especially hand-washing after touching the face or eyes – is crucial to minimize spread of the disease in classrooms and households:
Wash your hands frequently and after touching your eyes
Do not reuse handkerchiefs or towels when wiping your face and eyes
Change pillowcases frequently
Do not share towels with others
Do not use old cosmetics or share makeup
For more information about pink eye and other children’s eye health information, visit www.americaneyecentervn.com
Ask Dr Nam Tran:
My seven year-old son was prescribed glasses a year ago after "failing" his checkup. This came as quite a surprise as he is an advanced reader, does very well at school and plays sports without issue. After a year he still insists that the glasses don't help. He will wear them because he is a good boy. He says they make things bigger, but that it doesn't make it any easier. He is a bright boy, and I believe he is telling the truth. Should we insist he wears them?
Rather than insist that your child wear glasses that he feels do not help him, I suggest that you seek a second opinion. You child has probably been given a prescription for hyperopic (farsighted) glasses. Most children with mild hyperopia see well without glasses and therefore do not need glasses. There may be other reasons why your child may need glasses, such as to keep the eyes straight or to prevent headaches. A second opinion can help you to make an appropriate decision regarding glasses.