Add this to your patient education handout: homework-burdened and video game–obsessed children should take a break every half hour. A newly published study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology shows that a cohort of myopic children—all approximately 10 years old—had a significantly lower prevalence of myopia when they ceased near work at 30-minute intervals. The researchers suggest periodically taking breaks, especially outdoors, confers a protective effect on these developing eyes. 

The study looked at 10,743 children in Taiwan. It found that those who discontinued near work every 30 minutes and increased their outdoor time had significantly fewer instances of myopia over the next six to 24 months.

The subjects were examined at six, 12, 18 and 24 months. In an analysis of spherical equivalent of cycloplegic refraction, near work distance >30cm (−0.7D vs. −1.04D), discontinuing near work every 30 minutes (−0.77D vs. −0.96D) and more time outdoors (−0.75D vs. −0.98D) revealed protective impacts on diminishing myopia progression.

Huang P, Hsiao Y, Tsai D, et al. Protective behaviours of near work and time outdoors in myopia prevalence and progression in myopic children: a 2-year prospective population study. Br J Ophthalmol. October 15, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].