What Do Animal Studies Tell Us about the Mechanism of Myopia—Protection by Light?

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Abstract

Human studies have provided strong evidence that exposure to time outdoors is protective against the onset of myopia. A causal factor may be that the light levels outdoors (30,000–130,000 lux) are much higher than light levels indoors (typically less than 500 lux). Studies using animal models have found that normal animals exposed to low illuminance levels (50 lux) can develop myopia. The myopia and axial elongation, produced in animals by monocular form deprivation, is reduced by light levels in the 15,000 to 25,000 range. Myopia induced with a negative-power lens seems less affected, perhaps because the lens provides a powerful target for the emmetropization mechanism. Animal studies suggest that raising the light levels may have their effect by increasing retinal dopamine activity, probably via the D2 receptor pathway, altering gene expression in the retina and reducing the signals that produce axial elongation.

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