A genetic study investigates the role of light in the development of myopia

The International Consortium for Refractive Error and Myopia (CREAM) recently published the world’s largest genetic study of myopia in Natural genetics. Researchers from the Gutenberg Health Study at the Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center in Mainz participated in this study, which identified 161 genetic factors of myopia. This quadruples the number of known genetic risk factors playing a role in all retinal cell types. Most of them are involved in light processing. This confirms the hypothesis that insufficient sunlight is an important trigger for the development of myopia.

Nearsightedness, also known as nearsightedness or nearsightedness, is the most common eye disorder and it is on the rise. This is particularly concerning for severely myopic people as it increases their risk of developing vision complications. The causes are both genetic and environmental.

The international CREAM research group, which includes scientists from the Gutenberg Health Study at the University Medical Center Mainz, has now made significant progress in understanding the mechanisms behind the development of the disease. They assessed data from more than 250,000 people from Europe, Asia and North America in cooperation with genetic testing provider 23andme.

The study established 161 genetic factors for spherical equivalent and myopia, most of which were previously unknown. It has become clear that all retinal cell types play a role in the development of myopia alongside their primary role as light processors. This supports the theory that the inner layer of the eye communicates with the outer layer to increase the length of the eye, which is a decisive factor in the development of myopia.

“We have known for some time that parenting behavior is a major environmental factor in the development of myopia,” said co-author Professor Norbert Pfeiffer, head of the department of ophthalmology at the Medical Center of the University of Mainz. It was unclear what role close work while reading plays in the process, or if lack of sunlight is responsible. The new results provide important insights into the underlying biological mechanisms. They also support the most important advice Pfeiffer can give concerned parents as a preventative measure against myopia: “Send your children outside to play for two hours every day. And it’s not just their eyes that will benefit.”

The spread of myopia is a global phenomenon, especially in Southeast Asia, where the incidence of myopia among schoolchildren has increased significantly over the past decades. This is likely due to rising levels of education. People who read a lot also do a lot of close work, usually in low light conditions. The eye adapts to these visual habits and the eyeball thus becomes more elongated than normal. But if it becomes too elongated, the cornea and lens focus the image right in front of the retina rather than on it, making distant objects blurry.

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Material provided by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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