Appears in issue JBO - Volume 22 - Issue 3
As many as approximately 60% of young people in the U.S. have been estimated to be myopic (nearsighted), yet no clear etiology has been identified. Psychological factors that could be related to myopia development have received virtually no research attention, and dietary factors have received little attention. In this exploratory study, undergraduates (N = 417) completed questionnaires about their childhood perceptions and experiences related to multiple factors, including perceived psychological stress, diet, near work, and time spent outdoors. Myopic participants reported significantly less childhood
stress than did emmetropic (normal vision) participants, raising the possibility of differential processing of stressful events by myopes and emmetropes. Myopic participants reported significantly less fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in their childhood diet; less often playing outdoors; less light on the page when reading; more hours watching television; and more myopic relatives. No significant differences were found in reported time spent in reading and computer use. Stress and diet were found to be independent factors approximately equal in effect; their effects appeared additive. Results point
to new fruitful areas for investigation into mind-body connections and modifiable risk factors in development.