Fresh air and outdoor play has long been seen as good for kids, but research has revealed that spending time outside may also protect their eyes.
Experts from the University of Cambridge have found that children who are shortsighted spend an average of 3.7 fewer hours a week outside compared with those who have normal vision or are long sighted.
Several recent studies have linked shortsightedness – sometimes called myopia – to the use of handheld games consoles, mp3 players and even reading books, suggesting that the amount of time spent focusing on near objects is hampering children’s vision.
The review of eight studies suggests that every hour spent outdoors each week can reduce a youngster’s risk of being shortsighted by 2%.
Researcher Dr Justin Sherwin said the benefit from being outdoors could be linked to increased exposure to ultraviolet light.
Prof Paul Foster, who supervised the project, added: “To be honest we do not know what causes people to become shortsighted.
“It might be something to do with relaxing the focusing mechanism in the eye and returning it to normal distance vision, and the wavelengths of light we are exposed to outside could also have an impact.”