Influence of physical activity and screen time on the retinal microvasculature in young children

Bamini Gopinath, Louise A. Baur, Jie Jin Wang, Louise L. Hardy, Erdahl Teber, Annette Kifley, Tien Y. Wong, Paul Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)


It is not clear whether physical activity and sedentary behavior affect retinal microvascular caliber. We investigated associations among physical activity (outdoor and indoor sporting activities), sedentary behaviors (including screen time, television [TV] viewing, and computer and videogame usage), and retinal microvascular caliber in schoolchildren.

Methods and Results—
Six-year-old students (1765/2238) from a random cluster sample of 34 Sydney schools were examined. Parents completed questionnaires about physical and sedentary activities. Retinal images were taken, and retinal vessel caliber was quantified. After adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, eye color, axial length, body mass index, birth weight, and mean arterial blood pressure, children who spent more time in outdoor sporting activities (in the highest tertile of activity) had 2.2 μm (95% CI 0.65 to 3.71) wider mean retinal arteriolar caliber than those in the lowest tertile (Ptrend=0.004). Increasing quartiles of time spent watching TV were associated with narrower mean retinal arteriolar caliber ≈2.3 μm (95% CI 0.73 to 3.92), Ptrend=0.003.

These data suggest that physical activity could have a beneficial influence, whereas screen time has a potential adverse influence on retinal microvascular structure. The magnitude of arteriolar narrowing associated with each hour daily of TV viewing is similar to that associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure in children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1239
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular disease prevention
  • epidemiology
  • exercise
  • microcirculation
  • obesity
  • risk factors
  • Sydney Childhood Eye Study
  • children
  • retinal vascular caliber
  • sedentary behavior

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