Adding to the theory that environmental factors play an integral role in myopia development, new research from the recent ARVO virtual meeting reports that preschool children who were exposed to more outdoor activities had a steady decrease in the development of the condition over a five-year period.

At the study’s onset in 2014, a group of children from Taiwan between the ages of five and six were enrolled in a program that promoted outdoor exercise, consisting of two hours per weekday. The initiative also included annual school-based eye exams and surveys for both the children and their caregivers through 2019.

The investigation enrolled roughly 19,000 children, with boys representing about 52% of the participants.

The prevalence of myopia, defined as the spherical equivalent of -0.5D or less in either eye, was relatively high (15%) at the study’s onset, as the participants weren’t yet exposed to the intervention initiative, the authors explained. However, after two years of the program, the incidence fell to about 8% in 2016, and the myopia rates remained relatively stable at 8.5% in 2017, 10% in 2018 and 9% in 2019.

Further analysis showed a significant association between the duration of exposure to the preventive strategies and the prevalence of myopia after controlling for other myopia-related factors.

Yang YC, Hsu NW, Wang CY, et al. The prevalence trend of myopia after promoting outdoor activity among preschoolers, 2014-2019: a serial cross-sectional study in Yilan, Tai. ARVO Meeting 2021.