Reasons to Hike #5: Helps Your Eyesight

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The mental benefits of hiking are well known. It’s also a great form of exercise. Now there’s another case for why more people, kids especially, should wander the trails. Research shows that exposure to UVB rays early in life can block the symptoms of nearsightedness.

Researchers from King’s College London, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and several other institutions, observed 371 Europeans with nearsightedness and 2,797 without the condition. All the participants were 65 and older. The scientists estimated the participant’s exposure to sunlight between the ages of 14 to 29. Individuals with more exposure to UVB rays did not have high levels of myopia.

The study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect link between sunlight and nearsightedness. Only an association. Ian Morgan, a vision researcher and visiting fellow at Australian National University (who isn’t involved in the study), suspects that “visible light” could be a factor. Another professor who agrees, Dr. Donald Mutti of the Ohio State University College of Optometry, thinks that “brighter light outside stimulates a release of dopamine from the retina; dopamine slows down the growth of the eye, preventing myopia.”

Can sunlight decrease myopia once it begins?

NOPE.

According to Doctor Mutti: “being outside only affects myopia before it occurs. Once a [person] needs glasses, being outside has no effect on myopia.”

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