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Spending more time outdoors may reduce your children’s risk of becoming short-sighted. Researchers from Cambridge Uni have found a link between the amount of time children and teens spend outside, and rates of near-sightedness (myopia).

The team found that for each additional hour spent outdoors per week, the chance of myopia dropped by about two per cent. Nearsighted children spent on average 3.7 fewer hours per week outdoors than those who either had normal vision or who were farsighted.

It’s not clear exactly why the link is there, but researchers suggest that it might be something to do with simply being outdoors and exposed to natural light and/or having to focus on distant objects, rather than what children actually do when they’re outside.

“Increasing children’s outdoor time could be a simple and cost-effective measure with important benefits for their vision and general health,” said Dr Anthony Khawaja. “Future, prospective studies will help us understand which factors, such as increased use of distance vision, reduced use of near vision, natural ultra violet light exposure or physical activity, are most important.”

The research was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Orlando, Florida.

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