Dim Light Exposure and Myopia in Children

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018 Oct 1;59(12):4804-4811. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-24415.


Purpose: Experimental myopia in animal models suggests that bright light can influence refractive error and prevent myopia. Additionally, animal research indicates activation of rod pathways and circadian rhythms may influence eye growth. In children, objective measures of personal light exposure, recorded by wearable light sensors, have been used to examine the effects of bright light exposure on myopia. The effect of time spent in a broad range of light intensities on childhood refractive development is not known. This study aims to evaluate dim light exposure in myopia.

Methods: We reanalyzed previously published data to investigate differences in dim light exposure across myopic and nonmyopic children from the Role of Outdoor Activity in Myopia (ROAM) study in Queensland, Australia. The amount of time children spent in scotopic (<1-1 lux), mesopic (1-30 lux), indoor photopic (>30-1000 lux), and outdoor photopic (>1000 lux) light over both weekdays and weekends was measured with wearable light sensors.

Results: We found significant differences in average daily light exposure between myopic and nonmyopic children. On weekends, myopic children received significantly less scotopic light (P = 0.024) and less outdoor photopic light than nonmyopic children (P < 0.001). In myopic children, more myopic refractive errors were correlated with increased time in mesopic light (R = -0.46, P = 0.002).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that in addition to bright light exposure, rod pathways stimulated by dim light exposure could be important to human myopia development. Optimal strategies for preventing myopia with environmental light may include both dim and bright light exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Color Vision / physiology
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesopic Vision / physiology
  • Myopia / physiopathology*
  • Night Vision / physiology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / physiology
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology
  • Vision Tests