Secret to Stopping Myopia

I will share a secret that can lead to complete myopia prevention in this video. It’s simple, but not many people among the general public know about it. It sounds simple, but in reality is extremely hard to achieve.

If you don’t want to watch the video, here is the transcript.

Secret to stopping myopia

Hello, this is Dr. Ding. I am an eye doctor and today I would like to tell you the secret to stopping myopia.

Myopia affects 1 in 3 people on this planet, and people with myopia have increased risks of a host of eye diseases that may lead to blindness. No, it is not merely an inconvenience of glasses or contact lenses that can be fixed by lasik surgery later. It is a fundamental change to the eyeball that permanently changes the anatomy and robustness of the eyes that no lasik can fix. Lasik may make you lose those glasses, but your eyes are nonetheless the same ones with the increased risk of macular degeneration, retinal detachment, cataract and glaucoma. These are conditions that glasses, contact lenses, or lasik can not fix.

So now you know that myopia is bad, but why is myopia so prevalent? 

We can blame some of this on our parents. Some of them have genes that make it easier for people to develop myopia. For example, if parents both have myopia, then their kids will have a much higher chance of developing myopia as well. It’s a bit like tall parents will give birth to kids who will become tall adults eventually. Unfortunately, we really don’t have a way to choose our parents or our genes at this moment. So let’s find out what else is the problem. 

For hundreds of thousands of years, humans lived as hunter gatherers and/or farmers, which means a lot of time spent outdoors. 

And up until some two thousand years ago, humans did not really read. Computers came out only in the last century, as well as ipads and smartphones. With modern education and lifestyle, it has become the norm to spend the majority of wake time reading, writing, or looking at things at an arm’s length, most often in a room. 

And this is a big problem for our eyes. Human eyes are supposed to be emmetropic or just right by stopping growing after 6-8 years of age. However, the constant near work and lack of exposure to high intensity, full-spectrum natural light keep sending signals to our eyes to continue to grow, which leads to myopia. As a result, children’s eyes develop myopia which continues to progress up till early adulthood. In fact, this high stress and demand we put on our eyes make myopia grow even in people’s 30’s and 40’s. 

The sad thing about myopia is that it is not reversible, which means that once it forms, it does not reverse. It’s just like when you grow to be 6 feet tall, you don’t just shrink to 5 feet. 

The sadder thing about myopia is that it will continue to progress if nothing is done to stop the eye from growing. 

The saddest thing about myopia is that it happens so early in life that the people who have this happen to them, AKA children, are too young to be able to make a decision to live differently to make a difference. It is up to the parents, the teachers, the school and the society to tell them, hey, this is hurting your eyes and we have to do something to stop your eyes from getting bad or worse.

So what can parents do? First, we need to know that normal growth or kids’ eyes rely on a good amount of outdoor activities daily. Numerous studies have shown that 2 hours of outdoor activities daily prevent myopia from happening in the first place, and slow down myopia progression once it starts. 

What is so special about the outside? We don’t know for sure, but most likely it’s the enormous amount of light outside vs the comparably much dimmer artificial light inside a room. For example, on a bright sunny day, the light unit outside is up to 100,000 lux, even on a cloudy day it is about 5,000 lux, whereas in a well-lit room it is typically around 1,000 lux. In addition, natural light consists of a continuous spectrum of the visible light, whereas most artificial light sources have a different light spectrum. 

Another factor could be the openness of the outside environment. Unless closed, our eyes are constantly focusing on objects and scenes. This is done automatically without you trying. So your eyes have more chances to focus on things that are much farther away outside than inside a room. 

Back to parents’ responsibility of giving kids outdoor time. This has to happen early and consistently. You don’t start bringing your kids outside when they are 6 or 7, you start doing that when they are 1 or 2. Remember it’s the bright natural light that’s beneficial and not the exercises themselves, so working out inside a gym will not help their eyes, but walking or even sitting in the sun will do.

Sure please put on sunglasses or a hat to avoid UV damage to their eyes, but even when protected by sunglasses the eye still sees much more light than inside a house.

Again it is the bright natural light that is beneficial, so taking them to the park when it’s dark or really cloudy or raining will not help. It may be good for other things but not for myopia prevention.

What can schools do to help kids prevent myopia? Let’s face it, kids spend the majority of their day time at school, when the natural light is the best. So make recess count, make every child go out to the field during recess. Better yet, increase the time of recess. Maybe teach some classes outside. Promote walking to school and not driving. Build more windows to classrooms. 

What can our society do to help children’s eyes? Educate parents, teachers and children. Let everyone know about this ‘secret’. Promote this on social media, on TV and on radio. Make policies that mandate 2 hour of daily outdoor activities for schools, preschools and daycares. Screen children for vision problems. Subsidize health plans to allow children to have free eye exams. Give working parents special time off once in a while during the day to spend time with their children outside. Foster a culture that favors activities outside as an essential part of healthy living. 

There it is, the secret. It seems so simple, yet it is so hard to do. It is in every way against our modern lifestyle and civilization, where sitting in front of a computer all day long is the mode of productivity and success. Yet we simply have to do it, because after all, what is more important than our children’s vision and health?

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