20-20-2 Rule for Time Outside

In one of our previous blogs, we discussed the importance of the 20-20-20 rule, which reminds us to take frequent breaks from our screens (i.e. every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and look at least 20 feet away). This is sage advice for everyone, kids and adults alike.

However, as per Caroline Klaver, MD, PhD, and her co-researchers at the Erasmus University in the Netherlands, there is something even more effective in reducing the incidence of myopia (nearsightedness) and possibly slowing its progression, specifically in children. Let’s call it the 20-20-2 Rule. What does it mean? After 20 minutes of close work, children should gaze at objects in the distance (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds, AND they should spend time playing outside intermittently for at least 2 hours per day. Of course they should wear their sunglasses to avoid UV damage to their eyes, just as they should use sunscreen to protect their skin. 

Outdoor play during childhood is the most critical known adjustable risk factor for myopia. Studies show a significant effect when kids spend a minimum of 2 hours of intermittent time outdoors per day, including recess, physical education, and additional outdoor time after school. 

So get your kids (and yourself) away from your screens and enjoy the great outdoors together! Your eyes, and your spirits, will thank you for it!

By Dr. Telma Barseghian, OD