Australian Scientists Discover Lack Of Sunlight, Not Computer Screens, Causes Eyesight Problems

Increasing exposure to outdoor light is the key to reducing the myopia (short-sightedness) epidemic in children, according to ground-breaking new research by Australian optometrists.

Optometrist and lead researcher on the project, Associate Professor Scott Read, who is the director of research at QUT's School of Optometry and Vision Science, said that children need to spend more than an hour and preferably at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia from developing and progressing.

Image: Shutterstock

Speaking over the weekend at the Australian Vision Convention in Queensland, Assoc. Prof. Read explained it was not 'near work' on computer and other screens causing myopia, but a lack of adequate outdoor light. While screens are contributing to children spending more time indoors than in previous years, the research shows they are not the direct cause of the increased incidence of myopia.

"Optometrists need to make their patients aware that less than 60 minutes' exposure to light outdoors per day is a risk factor for myopia," he said. "It looks like even for those with myopia already, increasing time outside is likely to reduce progression."

President of Optometry Australia, Kate Gifford said "this new finding is of significant importance in our endeavour to mitigate the growing rate of myopia in children."

In February, it was announced that half the world's population will be short-sighted by 2050 with many at risk of blindness. The global study, published by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, forecasts that 10 per cent of the world's population will be at risk of blindness by 2050 if steps aren't taken to stop myopia turning into high myopia (requiring glasses with a prescription of minus 5 or stronger).

The QUT study measured children's eye growth via study participants wearing wristwatch light sensors to record light exposure and physical activity for a fortnight during warmer then colder months to give an overall measurement of their typical light exposure.

"Children exposed to the least outdoor light had faster eye growth and hence faster myopia progression," Professor Read said.

"The work of Scott Read and his colleagues is an exciting development and the onus is now on optometrists to help spread the message of the one-hour-a-day prescription of outdoor light," Mrs Gifford said.

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    And yet the HTC Vive and Oculis Rift still have a pathetic adjustment range for eyesight.

    I just want to say that little girl in the picture is super cute.

    "Australian Scientists Discover Lack Of Sunlight, Not Computer Screens, Causes Eyesight Problems"

    So one and the same. They're not getting enough sunlight because they're too busy with their faces buried in iPads..
    What a surprise!

      I believe it is an important development that shouldn't be dismissed as "what a suprise!" in that it allows us to better distinguish between the correlation vs. the causation of the condition.

      This assists in developing better preventative measures, as well as improving our understanding of possible treatment and cures.

      Not one and the same. If you substitute a book for the iPad you will still have the same issue.

    I can see it now... fast forward 10 years... "Australian Scientists discover that there is an increase in melanoma cases due to the advice given by Australian Scientists to kids 10 years ago to get more sunlight so they didn't get myopia"... or...

    "Australian Scientists discover that there is an increase the rate of reefs dying due to the increased use of toxic sunscreens due to the advice given by Australian Scientists to kids 10 years ago to get more sunlight so they didn't get myopia."

    Dr Cleverclogs here again... can we get links on the article etc please :)

    Is it the light outdoors or the fact that eyes can focus at long distances?
    My eyes started "locking" into short range after working in an office without any windows we could look through. I almost needed glasses for long range vision after a year.
    This fixed itself when I left that office and started "looking long" when thinking instead of gazing into the partition or monitor. (hands off mouse and symmetrical stretch is a good one for back and neck too.)
    15 years later and the shift to simply "looking long" (clouds or stuff on horizon is ideal) has stopped and reversed the damage. A long view is essential for eye health when working with computers 8 hours a day! (This should be an OH&S requirement IMHO)
    Every muscle in the body will adapt to it's regular movement range and the eye's focus is no exception. Staying indoors is like strapping your arm so it can never straighten...the bicep *will* shorten.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now