If your children cringe whenever they step out in the sun then its time to make them stand in the sun and tell them to keep their eyes wide open as according to findings of an Australian study, which states that this may stop kids from becoming short-sighted.
Australian researchers have revealed that exposure to sunlight may boost kids' dopamine levels, which reduces their chances of myopia overturning long-held view that education and close work are the key drivers of myopia.
In fact they suggested that, it is the environmental factors that govern the ability to develop myopia.
As myopia is reaching epidemic proportions in urban Asia, these findings will turn out to be a boon to public health officials in the region.
Dr Ian Morgan, of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, said that there has been a dramatic increase in myopia rates in East Asia in the last 30 years. He claimed that 90pct of conscription-aged males in Singapore are now myopic compared to figures from the 1960s to the 70s when only 20-30pct of 17-year-old males had myopia.
However in Australia, the rates of myopia increased from about 15pct to 20-25pct during the same period.
Morgan said that it has been suggested there may be an East Asian genetic susceptibility to environmental risk factors associated with intensive education and urbanisation. But he said that this can easily be brushed off because those of South Asian, or Indian, ethnicity growing up in Singapore are equally myopic as the Chinese and Malay populations. "This phenomenon cannot plausibly be explained in terms of changes in gene pools," ABC Online quoted the Australian National University researcher, as saying."A gene pool doesn't change that fast," he added.
However, Morgan and colleague Dr Kathy Rose, of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, have found the time children spend outdoors is the decisive factor.
In a comparison of children of Chinese origin living in Singapore and Sydney, matching the subjects for age and parental myopia, showed that the rate of myopia in Singaporean children is 10 times higher. But Morgan said that the Sydney-based children spend a considerably higher time in near-work activity, reading twice as many books per week. It was found that the major difference in their weekly activities was in time spent outdoors with Sydney-based children outside almost four times longer than their Singapore counterparts. "What children are doing in Australia at the moment seems to be right," he said. Morgan claimed that the exposure to sunlight encourages the release of dopamine which in turn reduces myopia rates.
Dopamine is known to inhibit eye growth and myopia is a condition caused by excessive eye growth.
The findings were presented to the Australasian Ophthalmic and Visual Sciences Meeting in Canberra this week.