Engaging in more daily outdoor activities can reduce the rate of nearsightedness, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study focused on the effects of adding an outdoor activity class to primary schools in Guangzhou, China.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is the ability to see close objects more clearly than distant ones. According to a news release, the vision condition has become very widespread in young adults in some urban areas of East and Southeast Asia. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of high school graduates alone are reportedly nearsighted.

"Our study achieved an absolute difference of 9.1 percent in the incidence rate of myopia, representing a 23 percent relative reduction in incident myopia after three years, which was less than the anticipated reduction. However, this is clinically important because small children who develop myopia early are most likely to progress to high myopia, which increases the risk of pathological myopia. Thus a delay in the onset of myopia in young children, who tend to have a higher rate of progression, could provide disproportionate long-term eye health benefits," the authors noted in a statement

Over the course of three years, the researchers studied a control group of 951 students and an intervention group of 952 students. The intervention schools had a mandatory 40-minute outdoor class each day and parents were encouraged to also engage their children in additional outdoor activities after school, on weekends and during the holidays.

Overall, the researchers found that progression rates of nearsightedness in the children from the intervention schools was significantly less after spending more time outside. 

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