The Epidemic of Nearsightedness, Part 1

Another modern disease on the rise

By Joachim Bartoll, October 2016, for Classic Muscle Newsletter #24, 2016

The belief that myopia, or nearsightedness, is hereditary is so widespread that hardly no one questions it. If you find it difficult to see or focus on faraway objects, you’ll probably be given a prescription for glasses. As with doctors prescribing drugs to combat symptoms, your eye doctor isn’t interested in finding out the true underlying cause of your poor eyesight – they simply want to sell you a pair of expensive glasses – or even worse, set you up for surgery (LASIK). It’s the quick fix, exactly what we’ve been conditioned to expect and accept in today’s society.

And that’s a shame, because the rates of myopia are rising in “epidemic” proportions around the world – even within the very young population! It’s actually worse in Asia than it is in Europe or the U.S. Up to 90% of Asian schoolchildren are nearsighted!

That proves it’s not hereditary/genetic! This is a modern problem. Our primal ancestors had perfect vision. To be able to see faraway was crucial in the hunt for food and to avoid predators. Also, myopia is extremely rare among native tribes in remote villages. Studies show that among indigenous people, rates of myopia are extremely low. But as modern culture reaches these tribes, rates shoot up. In a study of Inuit people on the northern tip of Alaska, only 2 out of 131 had myopia. But more than half of their children and grandchildren had developed the condition.

The human eye is designed for distance viewing

When you look ahead and focus on something 20 feet or more in the distance, light enters your eye naturally. Your eye muscles relax to let the light in. But when you focus on nearby objects in front of you, your eye muscles must contract. So, if you focus on objects close to you for extended periods of time, your eye muscles will become overused and tense.

Consider everyday life as we stare at gadgets and screens all day long – cellphones, computer screens, pads, TV-screens, and so on. Our eye muscles rarely have time to relax and all that muscle tension reshapes the eyeball. Instead of round, it becomes egg-shaped. This makes the cornea, the clear front surface of your eye, being curved more steeply than on a round shaped eye.

When this happens, some of the light doesn’t hit the retina at the back of the eye. It stops short. And the image gets blurred.

While the increase in staring and working with objects close to you might be one of the reasons behind the myopia epidemic, it’s not the whole truth. The research is still ongoing and recent studies are mixed when looking at the development of myopia and hours spent reading or working on a computer. The research into this new epidemic is still young.

What the research tells us

Researchers from Ohio State University found another cause of myopia when looking at 514 children with healthy eyesight. After five years, they found that 20% of the children developed myopia. And the ones most likely to get it were those who spent less time outdoors.

These findings were recently backed by another study in China where teachers were asked to send children outside for 80 minutes a day. After one year, only 8% developed myopia, compared with 18% at a control school.

Another study of 4,000 children in Australia confirmed that children who spend less time outside are at greater risk of becoming nearsighted. And it didn’t matter what they did outside. They could be engaged in sports, or playing, or even reading books. What mattered most was exposing the eyes to natural sunlight.

In other words, the natural light of the sun is what keep our eyes healthy. And it makes sense, since previous generations have had to spend a lot of time outdoors in order to work the land, hunt and collect food – and myopia and other problems were very rare in the past. Also, research has shown that sunlight triggers the release of dopamine in the retina. This natural process controls the growth and development of the eye. When we don’t get enough dopamine, the eye grows out-of-control. It stretches lengthwise.

In other words, if you stay away from the sun and also use a lot of near-eye devices, you’ll set yourself up for becoming nearsighted.

Animal studies show that natural sunlight, which is about 30,000 lux (a measure of brightness), produces enough dopamine to stop the eye from growing into the myopic egg shape. But our typical indoor lighting in offices, homes, classrooms, factories, etcetera, is only at about 300 to 800 lux, which is far from sufficient to stimulate the release of dopamine.

Other studies show that children need about three hours a day under light levels of at least 10,000 lux to protect against myopia. In other words, make sure your children spend a lot of time outside – and that you do too!

Additional steps to a healthy vision

The sun is still viewed as something “bad” by a lot of misguided institutions, including mainstream Rockefeller retarded medicine. This is unfortunate, but in line with their agenda, as they make money on people being sick and developing unnatural problems. However, we need sunlight to produce all hormones which are crucial for the body to stay healthy and being able to repair itself. And keeping a healthy vision is one more good reason to get outdoors every day.

If you’re pressed for time, or if your vision already is compromised, there are other steps you can take to protect or restore your vision. And that includes getting the right nutrients.

  1. Lutein is critical for optimal eye health. Eggs (yolk) are a great dietary source of lutein, and so are most organ meats.
  2. In studies on Age-Related Eye Disease, the results showed that high doses of antioxidants such as vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 IU), and beta-carotene (15 mg/25,000 IU), along with zinc (8 mg) and copper (2 mg), reduced the risk of vision loss. In other words, what you will find in most fatty red meat, organ meats, and eggs.
  3. Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These essential nutrients may reduce the risk of dry eyes and may have other eye health benefits as well. The minimum daily recommended dosage is 1,000 mg omega-3 fatty acids (350 mg DHA and 650 mg EPA). You can find omega-3 in most fatty meats, but especially in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

Part 2 can be found here.

References and further reading

EPIDEMIC OF PATHOLOGIC MYOPIA: What Can Laboratory Studies and Epidemiology Tell Us?
Morgan IG, He M, Rose KA.
Retina. 2016 Sep 8.

Epidemiologic study of myopia in a population of schoolchildren in Tunisia.
Chebil A, Jedidi L, Chaker N, Kort F, Largueche L, El Matri L.
Tunis Med. 2016 Mar; 94(3):216-20.

What Public Policies Should Be Developed to Cope with the Myopia Epidemic?
Verkicharla PK, Chia NE, Saw SM.
Optom Vis Sci. 2016 Sep; 93(9):1055-7. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000982.

Outdoor activity reduces the prevalence of myopia in children.
Rose KA, Morgan IG, Ip J, Kifley A, Huynh S, Smith W, Mitchell P.
Ophthalmology. 2008 Aug;115(8):1279-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2007.12.019.

Outdoor activity during class recess reduces myopia onset and progression in school children.
Wu PC, Tsai CL, Wu HL, Yang YH, Kuo HK.
Ophthalmology. 2013 May;120(5):1080-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.11.009

Parental history of myopia, sports and outdoor activities, and future myopia.
Jones LA, Sinnott LT, Mutti DO, Mitchell GL, Moeschberger ML, Zadnik K.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Aug;48(8):3524-32.

Role of Chronic Inflammation in Myopia Progression: Clinical Evidence and Experimental Validation.
Lin HJ, Wei CC, Chang CY, Chen TH, Hsu YA, Hsieh YC, Chen HJ, Wan L.
EBioMedicine. 2016 Aug; 10:269-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.07.021

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