A recent article in Ophthalmology Times from the Febuary 15th 2012 volume, caught our interest. The specific article called “Child’s play may benefit myopia”. Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition where light does not directly focus on the retina but in front of it, Myopia is the most common human ophthalmic disorder. Specifically, patients must wear glasses or contact lenses to allow clear vision for distance, but patients are generally in focus for near vision. In children, youthonset myopia occurs in early childhood and continues to progress until about the age of 21. Large major studies have been performed looking at ways to inhibit the progression of myopia. The basic idea is that by decreasing the accommodation/ the need to focus during near visual tasks and the progression would slow. Overall the studies showed that the use of spectacles, contact lenses, or medications (i.e. Atropine drops) does not inhibit the progression of myopia for any length of time.
In the Article, Dr Young discussed the idea that playing outdoors or being exposed to prolonged light exposure might protect against the development of or slow the progression of myopia in children. This would decrease the accommodative demands outdoors resulting in pupil constriction in bright light, that results in increased depth of focus; or dopamine is released, resulting in cessation of ocular growth. Simply put, parents should be encourged to have their children play outdoors, instead of sitting in front of a TV or a computer screen. This will not only help there physical well being and heath, but it may decrease their need for glasses.