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A Walk Outdoors Can Improve Your Vision

A Walk Outdoors Can Improve Your Vision

In 1967 when Hair opened at the Public Theater in New York, no one thought Let the Sunshine In would become a world-wide chart-topper (sung by the 5th Dimension). And certainly no one imagined that song could be the Rx for nearsightedness (myopia). But it turns out kids 14 to 19 and adults 20 to 39 who put down the books, walk away from the computer and TV, and let the sunshine in –their eyes—are far less likely to become nearsighted. And those with the highest blood levels of lutein, a carotenoid you get from green leafy vegetables and from outdoor time, are the most protected.   

The research, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, found getting outdoors was key to preventing myopia. We’re not sure if it’s because of exposure to sunshine (UVB rays) or because you often look at far distances when you’re outside. We do know, however, that lutein is deposited in high quantities in the retina, which contains the macula. And that nutrient, along with the antioxidant zeaxanthin, plus DHA-omega-3 also offers protection from age-related macular degeneration. That’s a double advantage.

So we recommend at least 90 minutes of physical activity daily for high schoolers, as much outside as possible. It not only benefits their eyes, it fights obesity, builds self-confidence and helps them regulate emotions. Adults—aim for 10,000 steps a day (again, outside if possible!) or equivalent. And everyone should enjoy multiple servings daily of lutein-rich greens such as kale, spinach, collards and/or watercress, and touch of basil! See our point? 

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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