Light, literacy and the absence of ultraviolet radiation in the development of myopia

Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(3):635-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2007.07.023. Epub 2007 Sep 4.


As the prevalence of myopia steadily increases, reaching as high as 90% in some populations, investigators continue to look for causative factors other than family history. Most current research suggests an association of axial myopia with reading or either the presence or absence of light. Even though these studies are frequently inconsistent, non-reproducible or contradictory, many clinicians utilize them in recommending treatments for children, such as bifocals or atropine. By reviewing the biologic effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields, we may gain insight into these discrepancies as well as unify the combined role of literacy and light in the pathogenesis of myopia. These biologic effects are wavelength specific. The wavelength of artificial (either incandescent or fluorescent) light is primarily 700-400 nm, while the wavelength of natural light is 700-200 nm, inclusive of the ultraviolet spectrum. So the opposite findings of myopia resulting from either accommodation under continuous light or under darkness (form deprivation) can be reconciled by restating it: Close focusing in the absence of UV light may provoke axial myopia. Experimental evidence exhibiting both scleral remodeling under accommodation as well as the inhibition of scleral remodeling by the hardening of collagen under ultraviolet exposure may support this concept. Perhaps new research can look into the role of the presence or absence of UV light in animal models of myopia.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Child
  • Darkness
  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Lighting / adverse effects*
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Myopia / etiology
  • Reading
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vision, Ocular / radiation effects*