Light and myopia: from epidemiological studies to neurobiological mechanisms

Arumugam R. Muralidharan, Lanca Carla, Sayantan Biswas, Veluchamy A. Barathi, Wan Yu Shermaine Low, Seang Mei Saw, Dan Milea, Raymond P. Najjar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Myopia is far beyond its inconvenience and represents a true, highly prevalent, sight-threatening ocular condition, especially in Asia. Without adequate interventions, the current epidemic of myopia is projected to affect 50% of the world population by 2050, becoming the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Although blurred vision, the predominant symptom of myopia, can be improved by contact lenses, glasses or refractive surgery, corrected myopia, particularly high myopia, still carries the risk of secondary blinding complications such as glaucoma, myopic maculopathy and retinal detachment, prompting the need for prevention. Epidemiological studies have reported an association between outdoor time and myopia prevention in children. The protective effect of time spent outdoors could be due to the unique characteristics (intensity, spectral distribution, temporal pattern, etc.) of sunlight that are lacking in artificial lighting. Concomitantly, studies in animal models have highlighted the efficacy of light and its components in delaying or even stopping the development of myopia and endeavoured to elucidate possible mechanisms involved in this process. In this narrative review, we (1) summarize the current knowledge concerning light modulation of ocular growth and refractive error development based on studies in human and animal models, (2) summarize potential neurobiological mechanisms involved in the effects of light on ocular growth and emmetropization and (3) highlight a potential pathway for the translational development of noninvasive light-therapy strategies for myopia prevention in children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages45
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Ophthalmology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: The authors disclosed receipt of the following
financial support for the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article: This work was
supported by A∗STAR-JANSSEN World without disease (A∗JWWD) (18/4/91/00/099), and by Singapore Government through the Industry
Alignment Fund – Industry Collaboration Project Grant (I1901E0038) and Johnson and Johnson Vision.
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License
( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (


  • animal models
  • doopamine
  • light
  • myopia
  • neurobiology
  • outdoor activity


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