Purpose: Time outdoors during childhood is negatively associated with incident myopia. Consequently, additional time outdoors has been suggested as a public health intervention to reduce the prevalence of myopia. We investigated whether there were specific ages during early childhood when the time outdoors versus incident myopia association was strongest.
Methods: Children participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were studied from age 2 to 15 years. Parentally reported time outdoors and time spent reading were assessed longitudinally in early childhood (ages 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 years). Noncycloplegic autorefraction was carried out longitudinally in later childhood (ages 10, 11, 12, and 15 years). Information was available for 2833 participants. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to test for association between time outdoors and incident myopia.
Results: From 3 years of age onward, greater time outdoors was associated with a reduced risk of incident myopia. The hazard ratio for myopia changed progressively from 0.90 (95% CI 0.83-0.98, P = 0.012) at age 3 years, to 0.86 (95% CI 0.78-0.93, P = 0.001) at age 9 years, for each additional SD of time spent outdoors per day. These associations were independent of two major risk factors for myopia: time reading and number of myopic parents.
Conclusions: Additional time spent outdoors across the 3 to 9 years age range was associated with a reduced incidence of myopia between ages 10 and 15 years. There was a trend for the association to increase toward the older end of the 3 to 9 years range.
- Refractive error
- Time outdoors