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Healthy eyes: 5 ways parents can encourage outdoor play in children to prevent Myopia

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By Dr Vivek Singh

Promoting outdoor play in children is not only essential for physical fitness and overall well-being but also plays a crucial role in preventing myopia, or nearsightedness. As children spend more time indoors engaging in screen-based activities, the risk of myopia development increases. Here are five ways parents can encourage outdoor play to safeguard their children’s eye health and prevent myopia:

Lead by Example: Parents are powerful role models for their children. By demonstrating a love for the outdoors and participating in outdoor activities themselves, parents can inspire their children to follow suit. Plan family outings to parks, nature reserves, or playgrounds, and engage in active play together. Whether it’s hiking, biking, or playing sports, spending time outdoors as a family creates lasting memories while promoting physical activity and healthy vision habits.

Designate Outdoor Playtime: Set aside dedicated time each day for outdoor play, rain or shine. Incorporate outdoor play into your child’s daily routine, whether it’s before or after school, during weekends, or after dinner. Encourage unstructured play in natural environments, allowing children to explore, discover, and engage with their surroundings freely. Establishing a consistent outdoor play schedule helps make it a priority and reinforces its importance in maintaining healthy eyesight.

Create Outdoor Play Spaces: Design outdoor play spaces in your backyard or community that are conducive to active play and exploration. Install play equipment like swings, slides, climbing structures, or a sandbox to encourage physical activity and imaginative play. Incorporate natural elements such as trees, rocks, and plants to stimulate sensory experiences and foster a deeper connection with nature. A well-designed outdoor play area provides endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Limit Screen Time: Set reasonable limits on screen time and encourage alternative activities that promote outdoor play. Establish screen-free zones or times, such as during meals or before bedtime, to minimize sedentary behavior and encourage active play. Encourage children to choose outdoor activities like riding bikes, playing tag, or building forts instead of watching TV or playing video games. By reducing screen time and prioritizing outdoor play, parents can help mitigate the risk of myopia development in their children.

Make Outdoor Play Fun and Exciting: Keep outdoor play engaging and enjoyable by providing a variety of activities and experiences. Organize scavenger hunts, nature walks, or treasure hunts to spark curiosity and encourage exploration. Plan outdoor picnics, kite flying, or water play to add excitement and variety to outdoor playtime. By making outdoor play fun and stimulating, parents can instill a lifelong love for the outdoors in their children while promoting healthy vision habits.

Encouraging outdoor play is essential for preventing myopia and promoting healthy eyesight in children. By leading by example, designating outdoor playtime, creating inviting outdoor play spaces, limiting screen time, and making outdoor play fun and exciting, parents can cultivate a love for the outdoors and instill healthy vision habits in their children. With proactive measures and a commitment to outdoor play, parents can help protect their children’s eyesight and promote overall well-being for years to come.

By Dr Vivek Singh is Sr. Cataract and Refractive Surgeon, Maxivision Eye Hospital

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