It’s Finally Springtime in Minnesota! Let’s Get Those Kids Outside!
After another long Minnesota winter, spring is finally in the air! As temperatures rise above freezing we begin seeing people in shorts, as if it were summer. Who can blame them after so many months of being cooped up indoors?
Parents of children are especially ready for the nicer days ahead. They can get the kids out of the house to expend all their energy outside rather than in. The good news for these parents is that they can actually be reducing nearsightedness in their children by enforcing outdoor playtime.
A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that almost 40 percent of 6 years old kids who didn’t spend more time outdoors eventually developed myopia, or nearsightedness. On the other hand, within a group of kids who spent an additional 40 minutes outdoors each day only 30 percent developed myopia, and of that group the prescription needed was less severe. This evidence shows that there is a correlation (however big or small) that there is a connection between natural light and eye health.
Michael X. Repka, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University finds the data encouraging. “Given the popular appeal of increased outdoor activities to improve the health of school-aged children in general, the potential benefit of slowing myopia development and progression by those same activities is difficult to ignore,” Dr. Repka wrote in an accompanying editorial.
This is simple additional evidence in the mounting support of outdoor play for eye health. Researchers have found that UV light in particular can play a significant role in the healthy development of a child’s eyes. This research should be used to further encourage parents to get their kids outside more and more. In our society today, too much time is spent indoors in front of screens and electronic devices. More time should be spent outdoor for overall health of the body and mind.
As spring begins to warm up the earth this year, get those kids outside for 40 minutes of play every day. Doing so could save your child the need for glasses as they grow older, or at least reduce the severity of the prescription needed. In addition, their overall health will benefit from the fresh air and UV rays. Besides, we Minnesotans all need a break from the indoors after enduring the cold winter months!