children in a park at sunset playing a game of football with a soccer ball

Want To Protect Your Kids’ Eyes From Myopia? Get Them To Play Outside

May 13, 2024 | Source: NPR | by Maria Godoy

If you’re a parent struggling to get your kids’ off their devices and outdoors to play, here’s another reason to keep trying: Spending at least two hours outside each day is one of the most important things your kids can do to protect their eyesight.

We think that outdoor time is the best form of prevention for nearsightedness,” says Dr. Noha Ekdawi, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Wheaton, Ill.

And that’s important, because the number of kids with nearsightedness – or myopia – has been growing rapidly in the U.S., and in many other parts of the world.

In the U.S., 42% of people are now myopic – up from 25% back in the 1970s. In some East Asian countries, as many as 90% of people are myopic by the time they’re young adults.

It’s a trend Ekdawi has seen among her own young patients. When she started practicing 15 years ago, one or two of the children she saw had myopia. But these days, “about 50% of my patients have myopia, which is an incredibly high number.” Ekdawi calls the increase astronomical.