LONDON: Worried that your kid's eyesight might deteriorate because of endless hours spent on smartphones, gaming consoles, computers and tablets? Take heart, spending just two hours a day outdoors, playing any sport in the sunlight, might help, experts suggest.
Myopia -- also known as nearsightedness and shortsightedness -- is a condition of the eye where the light that enters the eye does not directly focus on the retina, but in front of it.
This causes the image that one sees -- when looking at a distant object -- to be out of focus. It does not affect focus when looking at a close object.
According to experts, lack of natural light is the key behind the condition.
"The main factor seems to be a lack of exposure to direct sunlight, because children who study a lot and who use computers or smartphones or tablet computers a lot have less opportunity to run around outside and are less exposed to sunshine," Annegret Dahlmann-Noor, consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, was quoted as saying to BBC Health.
While stopping or limiting screen time use may be a big task for parents, the best thing to do, say the experts, is to get children playing outside as much as possible.
"We know that myopia or short-sightedness is becoming more common," Chris Hammond, professor at King's College London, was quoted as saying to BBC Health.
"Protective of myopia development is time outdoors -- sport and leisure outdoors are protective of eyesight," Hammond said.
"Probably on average across the week and the weekend, two hours a day outdoors is protective of becoming short-sighted in children," he noted.
Further, a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, C and E and nutrients are good for the back of the eye.
Regular annual eye checks can also help, experts suggested.