Myopia, commonly known as near-sightedness, is a condition where eyes have difficulty focusing on distant objects. Its incidence has increased rapidly over the past few decades, especially in urban areas with high levels of reading and using digital screens.
Research shows that about half of the world’s population will have myopia by 2050. Further, nearly one-tenth of the population have high myopia, defined as near-sightedness worse than -5.0 Dioptre. Progressive myopia may increase the risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataract, and blindness.
What are the causes of myopia?
Myopia occurs when the light from objects does not focus on the retina due to changes in the curvature of the eyeball, increasing the distance between the lens and the retina. Despite extensive research, the exact cause of myopia is not fully understood.
Can myopia be cured?
Myopia has no definitive cure. However, certain treatments and strategies exist to manage the condition and prevent vision-threatening complications. Outdoor activity is one of the best myopia control methods.
How do outdoor activities help myopia control?
- Counteracts enlargement of eyeball
Outdoor spaces under sunlight are significantly brighter than any indoor setting and positively impact the maintenance of eyeball size. Studies have shown that sunlight induces the retina to release dopamine into the eyes. It may prevent the eyes from enlarging, which augments myopia control. Myopia in children who spend at least 2 hours outdoors in the sunshine progresses less rapidly than in children who spend their whole day indoors.
- Increases long-distance focusing
Researchers have shown that high intensity and longer duration of near work, such as reading from a short distance, contribute to the onset and progression of myopia.
Long-distance focusing is a highly effective method of myopia control. Outdoor activities allow individuals to focus on distant objects like trees, buildings, vehicles, etc. It helps the eyes to undo the changes in the shape and position of the eye needed to focus on near objects. It also relaxes the muscles that control and coordinate eye movement, improving eye health.
Outdoor activities or games encourage the movement of eyes in all directions while following moving objects, like a ball or birdie. It allows the muscles that control and coordinate eye movement to relax and reduce stress. Thus, it helps maintain the structure of the eye.
- Enhances vitamin D production
Ultraviolet B rays in sunlight trigger vitamin D production and smoothen muscle tissues around the eye’s lens, promoting their functions. The muscles help focus light on the retina and maintain eye shape and distance between the lens and the retina. Studies have shown that myopic individuals have lower vitamin D levels than those with normal vision. Hence, exposure to sunlight for a decent amount of time daily helps control myopia.
- Engages peripheral vision
Focusing on distant objects during outdoor activities stimulates both peripheral and central portions of the eye. In contrast, we use only central vision when we look close to read or sick our focus on screens. Over-focus of near objects or dim-lit objects causes pseudo-myopia.
During this condition, the change in the curvature of the eye locks in and does not release to view distant objects clearly. It results in misdiagnosis and unnecessary prescription of glasses. Eventually, it leads to the worsening of distant vision. Hence, frequent outdoor activities help release the ‘locking in’ effect and prevent the onset of myopia.
Encourage outdoor play for better overall eye health
Regardless of age, every individual benefits from outdoor activities to prevent myopia’s onset and progression. We hope these tips might help you ensure adequate outdoor time for you and your kids.
- Play their favourite games with your child.
- Explore the neighbourhood playgrounds.
- Discover new places over weekends.
However, avoid direct exposure of eyes to sunlight by using hats or powerless UV-filter glasses while playing out under sunlight.
Outdoor activities are very effective among myopia control measures. With the growing need to rely on technology and smart devices, taking sufficient time away from the screen and spending time outdoors is essential to prevent myopia.
Zamindar Microsurgical Eyecentre offers myopia control protocol to help our patients restore their natural vision and get rid of glasses. Contact us to learn more about the program, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube for more educational posts.