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Myopia and ambient lighting at night


Myopia, or short-sightedness, occurs when the image of distant objects, focused by the cornea and lens, falls in front of the retina. It commonly arises from excessive postnatal eye growth, particularly in the vitreous cavity. Its prevalence is increasing and now reaches 70-90% in some Asian populations1,2. As well as requiring optical correction, myopia is a leading risk factor for acquired blindness in adults because it predisposes individuals to retinal detachment, retinal degeneration and glaucoma. It typically develops in the early school years but can manifest into early adulthood2. Its aetiology is poorly understood but may involve genetic and environmental factors1,2, such as viewing close objects, although how this stimulates eye growth is not known3. We have looked at the effects of light exposure on vision, and find a strong association between myopia and night-time ambient light exposure during sleep in children before they reach two years of age.

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Figure 1: Present refractions of children of ages 2-16 yr and night-time light exposure before the age of 2 yr.


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Quinn, G., Shin, C., Maguire, M. et al. Myopia and ambient lighting at night. Nature 399, 113–114 (1999).

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