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Playing outside is not only important for children’s physical activity

It is not only good for the physical activity in relation to the children’s health to leave the screen during the day, it is also important for the children’s eyes to get out into the sunlight and see far.

Excessive use of screens has been identified as a potential cause of the increasing incidence of myopia in children. The World Health Organization WHO has estimated that 50 percent of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050. And there is good reason to try to combat it, because in cases of severe myopia there is a risk of a number of late consequences.

In 2021, Lancet Medical reviewed more than 3,000 articles that variously investigated the relationship between screens and myopia, and the articles showed that there was a high probability of a connection, but that further research was required to conclude a clear connection. It is important to note that myopia is a complex condition with several factors that can contribute to its development, such as genetics and environmental factors such as nutrition, low vitamin D levels, and exposure to certain chemicals.

The “near work” hypothesis describes that long-term use of screens, which cause the eyes to focus on close objects for a long time, can lead to changes in the shape and size of the eye, which can contribute to the development of myopia. At the same time, children who spend more time in front of screens have less time outside, and time outside has been shown to have a protective effect against the development of myopia.

Daylight makes a difference

One solution in the fight against the development of myopia that is easy to use is daylight. The researchers know that it helps to see far outside in the fresh air. When the eye is stimulated with natural light, dopamine is released from the retina and this slows down the eye’s longitudinal growth. It is a good way to prevent myopia, because it is good in many ways to be outside. It is recommended that children and young people be outside for 90-120 minutes a day.

Risk of serious eye diseases

Apart from the fact that it can be annoying for children to wear glasses when playing, it is important to prevent myopia from developing as it can lead to a higher risk of other more serious visual impairments such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular disease . Therefore, it is important for parents, educators and healthcare professionals to be aware of the potential risks associated with prolonged screen use and to encourage children to spend more time outdoors, take breaks and get regular eye checks.

Good advice to prevent myopia

  • As much outdoor play as possible – just 45 minutes a day can make a difference, as research suggests that sunlight has a positive effect on eye development
  • Breaks from the screen and books – just a few minutes once an hour
  • The 20-20-20 rule: For every 20 minutes in front of a screen and book, you must look at something that is at least 20 meters away for 20 seconds

Sources: DR, Louis Nielsen, Flemming Møller, overlæge og forskningsleder på Vejle Sygehus, Øjenafdelingen, The Lancet, Øjenforeningen

Zoe helps to set limits for screen time both on a daily basis, but can also provide breaks in the continuous screen use of children and adults. learn more

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