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Optometry
Pediatrics

Increasing outdoor time may reduce myopia in children, new study suggests

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Increasing outdoor time for children may potentially reduce the onset and progression of myopia, according to a study, although further research is needed to confirm the long-term benefits and effectiveness of such interventions.

The review evaluated interventions designed to boost outdoor time among primary school children aged 6 to 9 years. The systematic review of 5 randomized controlled trials covered a total of 10,733 participants. The interventions ranged from integrating outdoor classroom activities to using motivational tools and electronic information to encourage children to spend more time outside.

The findings indicate that children in the intervention groups showed less progression towards myopia compared to control groups. Over 2 years, a clinically significant reduction in the change in refractive error (mean difference of 0.13 dioptres) was observed. The incidence of myopia also decreased, with intervention groups showing a 4.2% lower rate than control groups at the 2-year mark. In addition, smaller increases in axial length, a factor related to myopia progression, were noted in the intervention groups.

However, the study acknowledged the limitations of the evidence, with 95% confidence intervals often encompassing both potential benefits and harms. At one and three years, the certainty of evidence was low, making definitive conclusions challenging.

Reference
Kido A, Miyake M, Watanabe N. Interventions to increase time spent outdoors for preventing incidence and progression of myopia in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2024 Jun 12;6(6):CD013549. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD013549.pub2. PMID: 38864362; PMCID: PMC11167692.

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