Mom gave good advice about playing outside

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Go outside and play!"

Your mom's advice was good when you were a kid, and there's even more evidence it is good today.

That comes from a study at King's College in London, which found that the more time young people spend outside, the less likely they are to develop nearsightedness.

It's an important issue since the condition has increased 66 percent since the early 1970s, according to a 2009 U.S. study. In China and other East Asian countries, as many as 90 percent of recent high school graduates may be nearsighted.

Experts aren't exactly sure why -- staring at electronic screens traditionally gets the blame, but the London study suggests the hours young people spend inside may be a greater factor.

This and other studies are showing a strong relationship between current eyesight and volunteers' lifetime exposure to sunlight, especially the UVB range which causes burning.

Among 3,100 older European men and women studied, those who had gotten the most sun, especially between the ages of 14 and 19, were about 25 percent less likely to have developed myopia by middle age. Sunlight continued to have a positive effect up to the age of 30, according to the study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Sunlight has its hazards, of course, such as increasing the chance of developing skin cancer and cataracts, and local optometrists are cooperating on an effort along those lines.

Lifetime Eyecare, Walmart Vision Care and My Family Eyecare are joining forces to sponsor the second annual Run for UV Saturday, Feb. 18.

Last year, the 34-mile relay race from Cambridge to McCook raised $6,500, enough to provide about 260 kids with prescription sunglasses for local children who wear glasses or contacts.

Since more than 70 percent of the damage to eyes occurs in the first 20 years of life, local eye doctors hope the event will help prevent cataracts, dry eyes and macular degeneration in later years.

Teams of six to 10-runners and walkers are organizing to take the course between Cambridge and the Knights of Columbus hall in McCook, with 10 legs of approximately three miles each.

Registration is $25 per person or $200 per team, including a T-shirt for each member, checks payable to Republican River Runners, mailed to Lifetime Eyecare, P.O. Box 1808, 218 West D, McCook, NE 69001.

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