Spring is in the air despite what the groundhog predicted in early February. It’s only a matter of time before eyecare practices become inundated with patients suffering from allergy symptoms. Once prepared for the onslaught of pollen, your patients will confidently tend to their flower beds, plant window boxes and resume outdoor activities””without the annoyance of itchy red eyes and swollen eyelids.
But there’s more to just being able to be outside symptom-free on a spring day. A recent study has further linked natural light with the reduced incidence of myopia. The results suggest that increased ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure is associated with reduced myopia””particularly if exposure was in adolescence and young adulthood. (A good reason to get your teens involved in yard work.)
For the study, published in the January issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, over 4,000 participants from the European Eye Study were given an eye exam, a blood test to determine Vitamin D levels and a questionnaire about their previous sun exposure. Myopia was defined as a mean spherical equivalent of âˆ’0.75 diopters or less. Participants were excluded if they had aphakia, pseudophakia, late age-related macular degeneration and vision impairment due to cataract, resulting in 371 participants with myopia and 2,797 without.
An increase in UVB exposure at age 14 to 19 and 20 to 39 years was associated with a reduced adjusted odds ratio (OR) of myopia. While there was no convincing evidence for a direct role of vitamin D in myopia risk, the highest quintile of plasma lutein concentrations was associated with a reduced OR of myopia. This requires replication in future studies.
The reason sunlight may help reduce incidence of myopia is still unknown (Is it the sunlight? Is it focusing the eyes on something in the distance?) But the association may be enough to prescribe sunlight to patients, along with sunglasses, sunscreen and allergy meds, of course.
Joanne Van Zuidam | Editor-In-Chief | JVZ@VisionCareProducts.com