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Study: More time outdoors helps kids’ eye health

Children can have healthier eyes by spending more time outdoors, according to new research.

“Once they’re outdoors, their focusing mechanism is going to be out there so that their eyes are not working hard,” said Dr. Arlynn Roper, an optometrist at the Southwestern Eye Center. “It also increases blood flow and keeps the eye healthier in the long road, as long as they protect it from the sun.”

Parents can also encourage their kids to keep devices at about an arm’s length away, if not longer, Roper said.

The optometrist also said parents should encourage their kids to push their screens away from them — also at an arm’s length away — if they’re working on a computer or a video game, he said. And every 15 minutes during those activities, the children should take a look out a window to relax their eyes, Roper added.

Eye benefits are just one of many reasons to get children to go outdoors, as a 2012 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine report said only 51 percent of children went outside to walk or play daily with either parent.

The American Heart Association recommends that children 2 and older do at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activities each day. Exercise or physical activity leads to a score of benefits for children, including weight control, reduced blood pressure, reduction in the risk of diabetes and improved psychological well-being.

The KTAR Newsroom contributed to this report.