If you want to see things in the distance, you need to practice i.e. spend time outdoors, under the sun, staring into the horizon.
The Myopic menace
Climbing into a car with someone with myopia could be hazardous to your health. They are able to see things straight in front of them, but the things in the distance are fuzzy i.e. the rest of the cars on the road !
Just like the obesity epidemic, the phenomenon of nearsightedness is on the rise around the globe. But this time round obesity is not to blame, the evidence suggests our aversion to the outdoors is at the route of the problem.
Fortunately, the problem is easier to fix than being overweight, sticking a concave lens in front of the eye corrects the field of vision. Of course, the solution costs – a pair of glasses / contact lenses can set you back a pretty penny.
Every hour outdoors counts for your eyes
Researchers from the University of Cambridge gathered the data from 8 different studies and used it to analyze the eye health of a total of 10 400 children and adolescents. They discovered a clear relationship between distance vision and time outdoors.
Nearsighted kids were lovers of the indoors, spending on average, an additional 3.7 hours a week on the inside, compared to normal and farsighted kids.
The team calculated that for each additional hour a child spent outdoors per week, there was a 2 % decrease in the odds of developing myopia.
NOTE : It appeared to have nothing to do with how much time was spent on doing up close stuff, such as playing computer games and studying. The indoor types did no more than the outdoor types, the observed association hinged on time outdoors.
The magic of the outdoors ?
At this stage, the reason why outdoor time is beneficial is still up for debate, but it is speculated that it has something to do with vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.
Vitamin D’s manufacture begins when the skin absorbs (UV)-B radiation from the sun, and then uses this energy to turn skin cholesterol into a vitamin D3.
Spending time outdoors, maximizes opportunities to manufacture vitamin D, so people who spend time outdoors typically have higher vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D receptor less efficient in myopic people
Vitamin D acts like a key in a door – vitamin D is shaped in such away, that it can fit into a special vitamin D lock, known as a vitamin D receptor. Once the vitamin D has slipped inside the lock, it is able to unlock the production of other important molecules which are needed to keep the body working efficiently.
There are several different versions of the vitamin D receptor – scientists refer to these different versions as SNPs/single nucleotide polymorphisms. The version you have, depends on the version of the gene(s) you received from your parents.
People with myopia, often have versions of the receptor that don’t allow the vitamin D to slide easily in and turn the key. When their vitamin D levels are low, because they’re stuck inside, their eyes may struggle to get enough of the locks open, so their eyes end up not functioning optimally. Spending more time outdoors, ensures adequate vitamin D levels helping their eyes to see further.
Stick your eyes out
So if you want to enjoy x-ray vision for a lifetime and forgo the expense and hassle of artificial lenses, tap into a little lizard wisdom and stick your eyes outside on a regular basis.
Hanging out indoors turns can turn you into a nerd !More Time Outdoors May Reduce Kids’ Risk for Nearsightedness – press release from American Academy of Opthalmology. Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) and Group-Specific Component (GC, Vitamin D–Binding Protein) Polymorphisms in Myopia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 May; 52(6): 3818–3824. Donald O. Mutti, Margaret E. Cooper, Ecaterina Dragan, Lisa A. Jones-Jordan, Melissa D. Bailey, Mary L. Marazita, Jeffrey C. Murray,Karla Zadnik, and the CLEERE Study Group
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