Research from Flinders University in Australia suggests people with myopia (short-sightedness) experience poorer sleep quality than those with normal vision. The study found that people with myopia have more delayed circadian rhythms and reduced melatonin production (a hormone responsible for regulating sleep) compared to people with normal vision. Myopia results in the inability to see objects at a distance. People affected can only clearly see things up close.
Dr. Ranjay Chakraborty, optometrist from the Flinders University Caring Futures Institute, said the study adds to the growing evidence of the potential association between disruption of the circadian rhythm and myopia development. “Disruptions in circadian rhythms and sleep due to the advent of artificial light and the use of light-emitting electronic devices for reading and entertainment has become a recognized health concern in several fields, but its impact on eye health has not been studied extensively. These findings provide important evidence that optimal sleep and circadian rhythms are not only essential for general health, but also for good vision,” Chakraborty said.
Levels of melatonin were measured in participants through saliva and urine samples. In the study, the circadian timing and production of melatonin were measured in both people with myopia and those with normal sight. Melatonin is secreted in our brains soon after dark, peaking around 2 to 4 a.m.
Myopia is the most common vision disorder and, in severe cases, can lead to several blinding diseases in adulthood, such as retinal tear and detachment, glaucoma, or cataracts. Road signs and other long-distance objects are generally difficult for people with myopia to read.
“Because myopia typically develops during childhood, as a next step, we would like to examine circadian rhythm training, total production of melatonin sleep and light exposure at night in young children – the actual target population for myopia prevention,” said Dr. Chakraborty.
“Such a study will provide novel insights into the biological and environmental factors underlying myopia, which will aid in early diagnosis and treatment of myopia in children,” Dr. Chakraborty said.
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