Updates are filtering through from the International Myopia Conference, Aston University, Birmingham, UK. Some of the studies are confirming our gut instincts - more outside time is beneficial to preventing myopia (short-sight), as well as slowing myopia progression.
In Taiwan, 20% of 7 year olds are myopic, increasing to 85% by age 18. Pei-Chang Wu presented the results of a school based intervention trialled across Taiwan called the ROC (recess outside classroom). ROC involved spending breaks outside (an extra 40+ min / day), educating parents about the risks of myopia and importance of outside time, along with outdoor diaries and sticker reward systems to encourage outdoor time and breaks from near work at home. A total of nearly 700 Grade 1 children across 16 schools participated. There were two groups, one was a control.
The results? Over a year, this intervention inhibited myopia progression by about 30%.
This is important as previous data has indicated that outdoor time may only be beneficial to non myopic children, and not once myopia has onset. The ROC program showed a benefit for all children, both myopes and in the incidence of onset of new myopes - 8% in the ROC group compared to 18% in the control group.
The conclusion? This outdoor time stuff really works; for the at-risk pre-myope and the myope. Early interventions matter, provided they result in a change in behaviour.
We look forward to more information coming out of this meeting. If you have any questions regarding myopia please don't hesitate to contact us.