Do Children Need More Sunlight?

What would you say if I told you that your child’s eyes could  be harmed by not getting them outdoors into the sunshine as youngsters?  Well, it seems like that might be true. Scientists are finding that children in Asia are suffering from myopia when graduating high school.  Some folks say it may be from excessive studying, but others think that the combination of pressure on the eyes from excessive study as well as a tendency for children to take midday naps keeping them indoors might impact their eyes.

Of course there are no clear answers, just speculation at this point,but I’m going to  share what the BBC has written about children’s myopia.  The general idea is that the changes that are being seen are not about genetic changes, because if that were the case the numbers wouldn’t have changed so dramatically so quickly.  Instead it is something “environmental”, and one of the changes might be the way children are being kept indoors more these days.

Please check with your own health professional before taking any advice whether it comes from a news organization, or from a blog like this one.  I’m not a professional and I don’t mind saying so, but I am fond of natural helps over unnecessary medical interventions.  Also, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect young skin from the sun’s rays.  The sunshine itself doesn’t have to be too strong, it just has to be daylight!  For some reason scientists think that the sun increases dopamine and that may have an impact on eyes.

Here are some facts from the BBC:

According to the research, the problem is being caused by a combination of factors – a commitment to education and lack of outdoor light.

Professor Morgan argues that many children in South East Asia spend long hours studying at school and doing their homework. This in itself puts pressure on the eyes, but exposure to between two and three hours of daylight acts as a counterbalance and helps maintain healthy eyes.

The scientists believe that a chemical called dopamine could be playing a significant part. Exposure to light increases the levels of dopamine in the eye and this seems to prevent elongation of the eyeball.

“We’re talking about the need for two to three hours a day of outdoor light – it doesn’t have to be massively sunny, we think the operating range is 10-20,000 lux, we’re not sure about that – but that’s perfectly achievable on a cloudy day in the UK.”

‘Massive pressures’

Cultural factors also seem to play a part. Across many parts of South East Asia, children often have a lunchtime nap. According to Professor Morgan they are missing out on prime light to prevent myopia.

“Children suffer from a double whammy in South East Asia,” says Professor Morgan.

“As a result of massive educational pressures and the construction of a child’s day, the amount of time they spend outside in bright light is minimised.”


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