Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Light and myopia
This blog discusses the impact of natural light to our total well being specifically its relation to dopamine and the pandemic of myopia that is affecting our young people,
Dopamine and Sunlight
Dopamine is a powerful hormone that controls the growth of the eye – as well as playing a vital role in mood, attention and learning. Sunlight is key to this switching mechanism and has been shown to play a vital role in prevention and management of myopia.
A child’s eyes are only 65% of their final size and are born severely long-sighted – which makes sense in evolutionary terms as these vulnerable creatures would need to scan the horizon for danger.
Just like a plant growing in the dark, if these growing eyes are not exposed to sunlight, they reach out to gather the light they need – and as a result, grow into an elongated, myopic shape. Long hours fixed on a computer screen at a short distance from their eyes compounds the issue.
The light levels from typical indoor sources simply are not sufficient to suppress that dopamine pathway – a typical living room might be 200 lux, where sunshine, even on a cloudy day, is around 10,000 lux. There is simply no substitute for sunshine.
As a result, we are experiencing a pandemic of myopia.
Over half of all Americans need glasses. 20% of UK children suffer the same. 90%-95% of teenagers and young adults in China and Seoul are myopic. The long term consequences are severe - blindness, detached retina, macular degeneration, deprivation from outdoor and indoor activities, and so on.
What we can do…
1. Get outside. Two hours minimum per day – use the time you might have spent commuting to be outside, engaging with them and inviting them to be curious about the world too.
2. Specialist lamps can help too. Check the specifications carefully as, in order to produce sufficient light levels, many of them have a very strong blue component and flicker – both of which can be extremely harmful as discussed in the previous talks. Look for products with around 10,000 lux output.
Ensuring sufficient exposure to sunlight every day is quite simply the single most important thing you can do to ensure these precious young people can see the beauty of world through happy and healthy eyes.