Can Violet Light Help With Myopia? A Study Weighs In
Got horrible vision? A daily dose of sunlight could help. An NIH study reveals sun’s violet light (VL) can prevent myopia, otherwise known as short- or nearsighted vision. The number of people who are nearsighted (unable to see objects far away) has doubled worldwide in the past 50 years, and researchers believe spending so much time indoors may be to blame.
Violet light suppressed myopia in chicks
In research conducted on chicks, researchers induced myopia by covering the chicks’ right eyes with plastic goggles six days after hatching, while the uncovered left eye served as the control. The chicks wore the goggles for 7 days in 12-hour light-and-dark cycles while fluorescent light, violet light, blue light, and UVB were illuminated and tested individually. The results revealed that 360-400 nm wavelengths of violet light stopped myopia progression more than the other light forms. How, specifically? Violet light increased the expression of a gene known as EGR1, which is responsible for preventing nearsighted vision.
Violet light, although deficient in modern society, minimizes myopia in humans
The researchers conducted clinical research to compare nearsighted children who wore glasses (VL-blocked) and two types of contact lenses (partially VL-blocked and VL-transmitting). Intriguingly, the data revealed that VL-transmitting contact lenses (that is, contacts that allow violet light to pass through them) prevented myopia most. However, the findings suggest that violet light is one of the most important environmental factors for minimizing myopia overall. So if you ever felt like perhaps your prescription glasses or lenses were making your vision worse, there might be some truth to that after all. Furthermore, violet light is hard to come by in daily modern life due to excessive UV protection, ultraviolet-protected products such as eyeglasses and contact lenses, and artificial light sources such as LED – all of which do not transmit violet light.
Here’s how you can shed violet light on your life
First, check your glasses or contact lenses. If you have UV-protective lenses, chances are they obstruct violet light. Talk to your ophthalmologist about a VL-transmitting pair. Perhaps even more key to good eye health though, go outside for your daily dose of sunshine – with your naked eye. Every day in the morning or mid-afternoon, step outside and gaze at the bright sky for a few minutes – without looking directly at the sun. Spending 20 minutes in the sun each day can improve vitamin D, hormone, and melatonin levels – as well as regulate your circadian rhythm. Now, research shows that getting a daily dose of sunshine will do your eyes a favor, too.
More tips to hack your vision
In case you think you’re destined to a lifetime of bad vision, the good news is that you can hack your vision — it doesn’t have to deteriorate with age. Here’s how:
Switch to incandescent lights: While LEDs may save you a bit of money on your energy bill, they lack the sun’s frequencies — like violet light — that our bodies and brains need to function. Plus, their unnatural spectrums stress your mitochondria (organelles in cells that produce energy), leaving you feeling zapped. Halogen or incandescent light in your home or office is a definitive step in the right direction to better eye health.
Take vision-protecting carotenoids: Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in your body and is key to keeping your eyes young. One cup of cooked pumpkin offers 200% of your recommended daily intake. Lutein and zeaxanthin shield your eyes from UV rays and help with night blindness and sensitivity to glare. They may even fight macular degeneration and cataracts. Again, pumpkin is a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Pair it with fat though so your body can absorb these carotenoids best. Read this for more information on pumpkin for eye health as well as savory pumpkin recipes.
Protect against eye strain: You can also tap into the healing benefits of red light if you are suffering from eye-strain. Are you one of those who turns on your phone in the middle of the night? If so, the newest Apple iOS 10 feature could help. Color Tint turns your entire computer or phone screen red with the flip of a switch which minimizes squinting.
Correct your vision with the Brock String exercise: The Brock String exercise is a visual therapy technique that can actually correct your vision. Using a 10-foot long white string with three different colored beads, hold one end to the tip of your nose with the other end tied to a fixed point like a doorknob. Focus on each of the three beads individually to develop better binocular vision. This is a great technique for those with vergence disorder (eyes that don’t focus together). Learn how to correct your vision with Brock String technique here.
Get more tips on how to improve your vision here.
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