London, January 7: If you believe watching TV or computer is causing short sight in kids, you are wrong. An Australian study suggests that it is a lack of exposure to sunlight, rather than too much time spent watching TV and playing computer games, that damages children's eyesight.
Conducted by the Australia Research Council, the study suggests that children can avoid becoming shortsighted by spending a minimum of two to three hours in direct sunlight each day. The findings of this study contrast the widely accepted belief that watching TV, reading or playing computer games ruins vision.
The researchers behind the study-experts from the Australian National University and Sydney University-said that they even did not find any link between the flickering of TV and computer screens and damaged eyesight. They instead said that exposure to bright light could help regulate the eyeball's growth in childhood, dramatically reducing the risk of myopia.
During the study, the researchers compared the eyesight of young Chinese Australians and Singaporeans, and found that 30 per cent of six-year-olds in Singapore needed glasses, compared with three per cent of Chinese Australians.
The researchers revealed that both groups spent the same amount of time playing video games, reading and watching TV, but children in Singapore spent an average of 30 minutes each day outside, compared with two hours in Australia.
The figures remained similar even when the team compared children of Chinese descent from both nations, allowing researchers to eliminate ethnicity as a factor. Professor Ian Morgan, who led the study, said that shortsightedness was traditionally a problem among the highly educated who spent a lot of time indoors. "There's a driver for people to become myopic and that's education. And there's a brake on people becoming myopic and that's people going outside," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
Discussing the findings of his study, he said that playing video games had the same effect on vision as reading, using the computer had a "neutral" effect, and watching television had no affect at all. He, however, cautioned that students in their twenties, who spend a lot of time inside reading, should be aware that their eyes needed exposure to natural light to stay