16 Nov Research shows daylight keeps short-sight at bay
Australian scientists claim they have evidence that increased exposure to daylight is the answer to increased levels of myopia being experienced by children worldwide. They also assert that, contrary to popular belief, it is not `near work’ on computer screens and tablets that causes the problem – it is more the fact that computers are located indoors.
The researchers, led by Associate Professor Scott Read at Queensland University’s School of Optometry, say children should spend a minimum of one hour per day (and preferably two) in outdoor light to prevent myopia from developing. Prof Read goes on to say that “it looks like even for those with myopia already, increasing time outside is likely to reduce progression.”
However, in a different research programme, Professor David Mackey from the University of Western Australia warns that a balance must be struck between the benefits of daylight to eyesight and the dangers of melanoma from exposure to the sun’s rays. He cites a study carried out near Perth, where people who had had skin cancer were half as likely to be myopic. Prof Mackay urges caution: “if we tell people to spend more time outdoors, we don’t want to create a new epidemic of skin cancer”.
With proper management, the Queensland findings could prove beneficial in the long run, coming hard on the tail of the Brien Holden institute prediction of world myopia reaching 50% by 2050