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Outdoor activities Might Damage Eyes; Increase Risk of Cataract, Glaucoma

Sep 05, 2014 07:25 AM EDT
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Spending several hours outdoors at a stretch can lead to exfoliation syndrome (XFS) , a new study has found.

The research has shown that outdoor activities protect children against myopia. However, too much of it can be harmful. A new study suggests that people who spend a lot of time outdoors such as aboriginal Australians, face a higher risk of developing exfoliation syndrome (XFS) in the eyes. XFS is known to raise the odds of a person in developing glaucoma and even cataract.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology

Data for the present study came from clinic participants from US and Israel: 118 cases and 106 control patients from the U.S and 67 cases and 72 control participants from Israel. The researchers looked at information about the participants' location - the latitude that these people lived at - as well as the number of hours per week that they spent outdoors.

The researchers found that people who lived away from the equator had higher odds of developing XFS. Also, each hour spent outdoor, averaged over a lifetime, was linked to a 4 percent increased odds of developing XFS.

Wearing sunglasses appeared to lower the risk of the eye syndrome, the researchers said. Wide brimmed hats had no effect on the risk of developing XFS.

"This work provides evidence for a role of reflected UV rays in contributing to XFS. It by no means excludes other genetic and environmental mechanisms in XFS pathogenesis. If confirmed in other studies, there could be reason to consider more widespread use of UV-blocking eyewear in the prevention of XFS," researchers said, according to a news release.

Eye experts say that the study provides valuable insight into the risks of developing XFS.

"The research is well-done and provides evidence for a role of reflected ultraviolet rays, among other genetic and environmental factors, in the development of exfoliation syndrome," said Dr. Paul Sidoti, deputy chair for clinical affairs in the department of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, according to Healthday. "If the causative role of UV light is confirmed, the role of UV-blocking protective eyewear in the prevention of exfoliation syndrome would be substantiated."

XFS was first described in Scandinavia. The condition is quite common in Iceland, Denmark, the Middle East, India, and Japan.

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