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Is There A Link Between Exposure To Sunlight And A Reduction In Myopia?

We are often told that the sunlight is bad for our eyes. This is due to the fact that the Ozone layer is becoming thinner thereby exposing us to the harmful U.V rays of the sun. However, research studies suggest that some sunlight is actually good for your eyes and that the sun actually has some positive effects on your eye health. Research also shows a very low rate of Myopia in the country of Australia as people participate more in outdoor activities in the land down under. By comparison, countries that completely lack outdoor activities such as China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, have rates of Myopia that even surpass the United States at 90%! Therefore, is sunlight really a factor in determining a reduction in the rate of nearsightedness and why? Also, if sunlight is necessary to reduce this problem how much sunlight is safe enough to accomplish this goal? Here is some information concerning this matter:

Myopia is a vision condition whereby an individual is able to see near objects clearly but distant objects appear blurry. There is a debate among traditional eye care experts as to the causes of myopia also known as nearsightedness. The traditional eye care industry claims that this condition is hereditary even though scientific research refutes this fact. More research supports the fact that it is generally caused by the buildup of stress and tension in the eyes resulting from too much close up work over many years. However, another cause of nearsightedness that seems to have supporting scientific evidence is the fact that a lack of outdoor activities is causing an increase in nearsightedness.

This research shows that countries that significantly lack outdoor activities such as China and Japan have a 90% rate of Myopia. Whereas countries with the highest outdoor activities such as Australia had the lowest rates of Myopia in the world. Several scientific studies conducted in Asia suggested that when an extra hour of outdoor activities was added to the school curriculum there was a 14% decrease in the rate of Myopia.

A person with nearsightedness is suffering from what optometrists refer to as a refractive error vision problem. This is defined as an eye condition caused by the fact that the shape of the eyeball is such that it does not bend light properly so that the image that falls on the retina becomes blurry. In order for us to see clearly light reflected off of objects should fall directly on the retina. In the case of nearsightedness, the eyeball is too long and light reflected off of objects does not fall directly on the retina but instead falls in front of it.

There is some scientific research that suggests that sunlight does have a beneficial effect on our eyes. For instance, sunlight supplies our eyes with the beneficial vitamin, Vitamin D. Our eyes require sunlight for maintaining good health. Exposure to sunlight activates the hormone in the body called Melatonin. This is a sleep hormone that controls our sleep cycles. Also, the Hypothalamus in the brain needs bright light to maintain the health of many systems in our body. For example, this is necessary for the maintenance of healthy blood pressure levels, a normal body temperature and the maintenance of better vision health. Safe exposure to sunlight also increases cellular activity in the retina that increases the production of antioxidants. These antioxidants are necessary in ridding the visual system of harmful cells called free radicals that cause the development of eye diseases.

Too much sunlight can negatively affect our eyes and increase the risks for eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Therefore, it is important to strike a proper balance between what is a safe level of healthy exposure to sunlight as opposed to what is not. If you are spending numerous hours in the sun outdoors then it is necessary to protect your eyes by wearing the proper sunglasses. This protects your eyes from the harmful U.V rays of the sun. However, it is also necessary to spend a little time in the sun without your sunglasses so that your eyes can benefit from the beneficial rays of the sun. Health experts suggests that it is safe to spend only 20 minutes in the sun without your sunglasses, preferable early in the morning when the sun’s rays are not very intense.

While too much exposure to the harmful rays of the sun is damaging to eyesight, spending a little bit of time in the sun is beneficial to our eye health. Sunlight provides the eyes with beneficial Vitamin D and regulates healthy changes in the visual system that support better vision health and reduces the risks for Myopia.

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