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Can staring at the distance cure nearsightedness (myopia)?

person at the end of the dock staring out into the distance hoping for a nearsighted cure

Staring at the distance can have vision benefits, but can it cure myopia?

Over the years, many strategies have been proposed to “cure” myopia. One such strategy, staring at the distance, will not cure myopia. A cure for myopia does not exist to date. But, staring at the distance may help to relieve eye strain during extended periods of near work, especially if practiced outdoors.

Vision scientists have determined that the development of myopia is a combination of both heredity and environment.

The theory that staring at the distance can cure nearsightedness is likely based on research that has found environmental factors linked to myopia progression. One of these proposed factors is thought to be prolonged periods of near work without a visual break.

In light of this, strategies have been offered to decrease the strain on the eyes during extended near work. One of these recommendations is taking visual breaks to stare at the distance. However, there is no clear link between myopia prevention and staring at the distance. 

Still, developing a habit of taking visual breaks by staring at the distance after 20 minutes of work can have positive benefits. Prolonged periods of near work without visual breaks have been found by some studies to be linked with an increased risk of myopia. 

Researchers have found that spending time outdoors may delay the onset of myopia. As such, eye doctors and scientists recommend that children spend 80-120 minutes (about 2 hours) outside each day to decrease the risk of myopia development. This is referred to as the 20-20-2 rule.  

This rule is a modification of the traditional 20-20-20 rule. This is a strategy to relieve eye strain that results from prolonged near work. It is helpful to remember to look up from your computer or book from time to time. This rule relieves eye strain by reminding you to stare at the distance (or at least 20 feet away) for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. 

To achieve the greatest vision benefits, go outside for a vision break. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to step outside for a vision break during school or work. If you aren’t able to get outside, try looking out the window. If a window is not available, look as far across the room as possible.

Taking visual breaks by staring at the distance may not be a cure for myopia. But, it does give a break to your eyes, and possibly has long-term vision benefits as well.

READ MORE: Cheat sheet: How to limit your kid’s screen time

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