Indoor, Urban Eyes: Help for Healthier Eyes

pond at Tinicum
pond at Tinicum

“Men and dogs belong outside”. I may have mentioned this quote from my Grandfather Harry before, but I find another instance where this statement is true.

I had noticed my eyes were less stressed when I was outside and my eyesight was better. They didn’t seem to strain to see as much as when I am inside.I didn’t know why but I felt it.

The February 9, 2013 issue of Science News, reported that too much time indoors may increase nearsightedness.

Apparently, good light and unimpeded vision regulate proper eye growth and healthy vision. Researchers haven’t found the exact factors of goodness of being outdoors, but do we need to wait until they find out?

Nearsightedness has steadily increased in North America and Europe in recent decades. In the U.S., 1/3 of adults are near-sighted. Myopia (nearsightedness) is on the rise in the Far East. In studies conducted recently, on young men in Seoul, South Korea and college students in Shanghai, 95% were near-sighted. I am near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other, it’s called monocular vision if you’re wondering. And my eyes are otherwise healthy. But, I work indoors. My eye sight didn’t deteriorate until I landed my first librarian job and began to spend most of my days indoors.


It seems these things contribute to healthy eyesight.

  1. Outside Distances. Instead of a fixed distance in a factory, office or school room, the outdoors offers a variety of distance for your eyes to focus on. You look at objects far into the distance, the plant at your feet, and the movement of a squirrel just a few yards away.
  2. Sunlight. Sunlight provides a range of lightness and darkness, that your eyes have to adjust to  continuously. Clouds moving overhead create bright and overcast conditions in mere moments. Dim forests, bright sunny fields and near dark dusks give your eyes a workout.
  3. Relaxation. The eye is in a more relaxed position when outdoors instead of while in. Focusing your eye sight indoors puts unnatural demands on your eyes. The consistent unchanging light, the almost undetectable flicking of fluorescent lights and straining to read a computer screen or small print contribute tough ways of seeing indoors.
Eastern Screech-owl (Megascops asio)
Eastern Screech-owl (Megascops asio)

Since our natural human habitat is the outdoors, it is no surprise that being outside is so crucial to our well being. We can sit on the porch or patio, take a walk, or just stare mindlessly into space.

Women belong outside. Men belong outside. Kids belong outside for good eye growth and health.Your eyes may just be the better for it.

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