Big news today for pediatric eye doctors, parents, and children! The New York Times reports exposure to sunlight may reduce the risk of developing myopia, according to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Researchers found that people “with the highest UVB exposure, especially in the teenage and young adult years, had about a 30 percent lower risk for myopia than those with the lowest exposure.”
Here is the conclusion from the study abstract:
The conclusion of the Increased UVB exposure was associated with reduced myopia, particularly in adolescence and young adulthood. The association was not altered by adjusting for education. We found no convincing evidence for a direct role of vitamin D in myopia risk. The relationship between high plasma lutein concentrations and a lower risk of myopia requires replication.
USA Today reports the researchers found that exposure to UVB “between the ages of 14 and 29 years was associated with a significant decrease in the chance of developing nearsightedness as an adult.” The article points out that a previous study found that the number of Americans with myopia between the ages of 12 and 54 increased from 25% to 41.6% from the early 1970s to the early 2000s.
One thing that was interesting, is that this was the first study that I have read that showed a correlation between lutein and myopia. From NYT, “The researchers were surprised to find that people with the highest blood levels of lutein, a nutrient found in leafy vegetables, had a 43 percent reduced risk of nearsightedness compared with those with the lowest levels.” Before we make specific recommendations, doctors will need more information about myopia and lutein. But it is always a good idea to eat more leafy green vegetables.
It is encouraging to see more research on myopia and its development. For those children who develop nearsightedness, there are treatment options that can slow or prevent worsening vision. To see if your child is at risk and find out what you can do, visit our myopia page.