Speaker: Sunlight affects only initial development of myopia
LAS VEGAS – Jeffrey Cooper, OD, said when he finished optometry school, two camps of myopia development existed – genetic or environmental – with no middle ground. That philosophy has changed, he told attendees at the Global Contact Lens Forum here at Vision Expo West.
“It began changing when we started looking at animals and manipulating their environment,” he said. “A lack of sunlight is a risk factor to develop myopia. Once you start down the path of myopia, there is no relationship with the amount of outdoor light and the increase in myopia. It’s only in the initial development.”
Cooper said, “We have to get our kids outside, particularly in the early years. After they become myopic, it’s not as big of a deal.”
He said another risk factor is having both parents who spend a minimal amount of time outside.
“Genes tell the body what to do when you get appropriate triggering from the environment,” he said, “which causes adaptation to improve function. In myopia, you are changing the length of the eye to accommodate the near world.
“Outdoor time cannot explain the increase in myopia in office workers, cannot explain the high percentage of myopia in professionals,” he continued. “In New York City you see people in buildings working on computers becoming myopic after the age of 20. But the janitors aren’t. There’s something else.”
Cooper said a researcher at Columbia University found that mice with a specific gene become myopic when exposed to near environments, and if they do not have the gene they do not become myopic. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO
Cooper J, et al. The contact lens trilogy: Specialty areas to boost your contact lens practice. Presented at: Vision Expo West; Las Vegas; Sept. 14-17.
Disclosure: Cooper is the inventor of Computer Orthoptics and HTS, office and home computerized vision therapy programs.