The eyes are the window to the soul

sun‘The eyes are the window of the soul,’ as well as an extension of our brain. It is our most treasured sense and equally, the most ignored in current ‘healthy’ lifestyles. You see, getting an annual eye exam is not the same thing as taking care of one’s eyes in the same way as having a gym membership does not translate as being fit. There is an outrageous new epidemic that is being ignored, and one that is aggravated by our environment, community choices and personal way of life. Myopia. In fact, the very meaning of the word itself spells out the perspective of this problem.

Myopia is better known as “nearsightedness” or “short-sightedness.” This means that close vision is normal but distance vision is problematic, objects appearing blurry. Anatomically, the eyeball becomes elongated and or the cornea and lens may be overly curved in relation to the eyeball. There is a speculative hereditary component as well. In any case, between 1999 and 2004, myopia increased 66% in the USA…at that time, not all households had as many computers as the current standard. Schools have gone to 1-1 devices per child and screen time has become the new view for many children. In Eastern Asia, the rate of myopia has risen to more than 90% of teenagers and adults.[1]

Many studies have been conducted world-wide. Due to extensive research, new standards have been implemented in Eastern Asian, Australian and some European schools. Such changes have been directed at minimizing myopia and decreasing its progression—through a return to the previous decades’ traditions— spending more time outdoors in natural light. Our eyes require time outdoors in natural light to maintain their functional health. Every day. 2-3 hours’ worth of exposure optimally.

Most elementary schools have a landslide of in-front-of-the-face busy schoolwork on the daily docket–computer programs designed to challenge each student at his or her own ‘level’ and so on. These same elementary schools fall short of providing even the minimum of 60 minutes of recess per day. That’s 60 measly minutes the Government and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests as a baseline amount…this from the same governing bodies who lawfully endorsed ketchup and pizza as vegetables.[2]

Our eyes and the rest of our bodies are meant to live in a symbiotic relationship with the outdoor world. Our eye health requires the sunlight and relaxing of the iris, which is the muscle that allows for focusing on close objects. This muscle must have periods of relaxation, looking up and far away from what is directly in front of the face in order to achieve that relaxation, or suffer the consequences of muscle deterioration. Natural sunlight not only stimulates the hypothalamus and pineal gland to regulate melatonin, an anti-oxidant and hormone that affects sleep and mood, but also sends many signals to the rest of the brain facilitating the release of serotonin and suppressing cortisol providing more alertness and enhanced mood.[3]

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”            -Helen Keller

 

[1] Dolgin, E. 2015, March 15.The myopia boom. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/news/the-myopia-boom-1.17120.

[2] Wikipedia,2015, December15.Ketchup as a vegetable. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchup_as_a_vegetable.

[3] PL Turner, MA Mainster,2008 August 6. Circadian photoreception: ageing and eye’s role in systemic health. Retrieved from http://bjo.bmj.com/content/92/11/1439.full.

 

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