Protecting your child’s vision: managing myopia with outdoor time and screen limitations

Myopia, also known as near-sightedness, is a growing health concern worldwide. There has been a dramatic increase in its prevalence, particularly among children. Research has shown this rise can be blamed in significant part on the changing lifestyle of many children. Namely, the amount of time spent indoors and on screens.

A child or teenager’s visual environment significantly increases the risk of myopia onset and progression. If your child, or someone in your care, suffers from myopia, or shortsightedness, there are things you can do to make a difference. In this blog, we’ll explore factors influencing myopia development and recommendations for managing myopia and your child’s vision health.

The benefits of outdoor time for myopia control

managing myopia nzResearchers have shed light on the positive impact of outdoor activities on managing myopia. A growing body of research supports a clear and important connection between outdoor activity and myopia. Children’s eyes need fresh air as much as their bodies do. Each additional hour per day spent outdoors has been found to have a positive effect on slowing the progression of myopia. It allows their eyes to focus on different distances while providing a much-needed break from close-up work and screens.

  1. Exposure to natural light:
    When children are outside, their eyes are exposed to brighter natural light. This is beneficial in slowing the onset and progression of myopia.
  2. Focusing on different distances:
    Being outside allows your child’s eyes to focus on objects at different distances. It also provides a break from near work associated with screens and books. This variation in focusing distances can help alleviate eye strain.

Our recommendations for managing myopia

Aim for your child to spend at least an hour per day engaging in outdoor activities, although we recommend around 2 hours per day on average. This can include participating in sports, playing in the park, going for walks, bike rides or simply hanging out in the garden or on the lawn. Increasing your child’s time spent outdoors can help reduce the chances of myopia worsening while enhancing your child’s overall health and well-being.

The impact of digital devices on myopia development

managing myopia in childrenExcessive use of digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, has been linked to an increased risk of myopia. We strongly recommend monitoring the amount of time your child spends on screens and reading. We suggest you consider the following:

  1. Limit screen time:
    Encourage your child to spend no more than three hours a day on close work activities, including reading, homework, and screen time. This limit should be in addition to school time.
  2. Proper positioning and breaks:
    Ensure that when using a computer, it is positioned correctly to avoid eye strain. Encourage your child to take breaks every 20 minutes by looking across the room for 20 seconds.

Partner with John O’Connor Optometrists for myopia control

Incorporating outdoor time and implementing strategies to limit screen time can make a significant difference in myopia progression. At John O’Connor Optometrists, we are committed to providing high-quality and affordable eye care and providing you with vital information to help manage your child’s myopia effectively.

When you visit our Newmarket or Henderson Optometrists, we will offer expert advice and recommendations based on the latest research findings, and our experienced optometrists will also discuss myopia control treatments tailored specifically to your child.

Schedule an appointment today

To schedule an appointment with our New Zealand-owned optometry practice in Auckland, call 09 522 1283 (Newmarket) or 09 836 1731 (Henderson).