phto woman's eye

Needing to wear glasses has long been viewed as a mark of geekiness without any other real significance.  “Just bad luck”, the medical experts said.  “Your eyeball is just shaped wrong and there is nothing you can do about it”. Dissenting voices, especially from the fuzzier end of the alternative medical spectrum, promoted eye exercises to improve vision and health and full spectrum lights (like the ones in my office).


We have learned that near-sightedness (aka myopia) makes a person more likely to develop glaucoma or retinal detachment.  The risk of glaucoma is 14 times higher in those with really bad nearsightedness. Two thirds of those who develop a retinal detachment had nearsightedness before the detachment occurred. Those are pretty serious consequences

Many years ago, I heard a wise young female Asian opthalmologist comment that children were spending too much time indoors and reading.  She agreed with the fuzzy thinkers that continual and intense focus on nearby, unmoving objects in poor lighting, was unhealthy.  She and they were right.

Since 1970, the rate of nearsightedness (the most common reason for needing glasses) in the USA has risen a staggering 65%. Rates are even higher in Asian countries, inspiring researchers in Taiwan to conduct a study to learn if requiring children to spend 80 minutes out of doors, each day they were in school would have any impact on nearsightedness.  It did.

A Danish study discovered one possible explanation.  As the shape of the eye determines focal length and, greater focal length is the cause of nearsightedness, that was the focus of their investigation.  By measuring the eyes of children through the extreme seasonal changes of the Nordic year,  they learned that the less daylight exposure children experienced, the longer their eyes grew.

My conclusions?  Simple things have hugely positive effects.  Being outside is healthy for a person’s eyes and so much else.  Full spectrum lighting is the healthiest artificial light.  

Written by 

Michael Carlston, MD is an internationally recognized authority in the integration of conventional and complementary medicine in clinical practice, as well as medical education, research and organizational consulting. Practicing in Santa Rosa, California, Dr. Carlston was voted “Best General Physician In Sonoma County, California” by readers of the Sonoma County Independent newspaper and also named one of the outstanding physicians in the Bay Area by San Francisco Focus Magazine. With 30+ years in private practice, his expertise is in nutrition, homeopathy and sports medicine.

Leave a Reply