Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition that affects nearly 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. Yet, only 3 out of every 100 myopic people are born that way; for everyone else, myopia is acquired at some point during their life span.
Myopia is the result of a degeneration of some part of the visual system. It’s so common to see someone wearing glasses that we forget that it is not natural. Myopic people are also more prone to develop more serious eye conditions, such as retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts.
The search for nutritional answers to myopia has focused on two different parts of the visual system: the shape of the eye and the functioning of the lens.
Let’s look at each of these separately:
One possible explanation for myopia is that it occurs when the eye elongates, stretching from front to back. Distortions as small as 4/100 of an inch are enough to produce extreme degrees of myopia. Exactly what causes this stretching is not clear, though it seems to be due to either increased intraocular pressure or excessive tension in the extra-ocular muscles.
Dr. Gary Price Todd, a North Carolina ophthalmologist, has been using nutritional and metabolic healing for different eye problems for more than 20 years. He is trained to do all the standard surgeries for the eyes, but he prefers to promote the natural healing of the eyes whenever possible.
Dr. Todd believes that most myopia develops in children during growth spurts. If the child is not receiving proper nutrition, the body literally takes minerals from the eye to use in the growth of the body. The resulting mineral depletion in the eye weakens its structure, making it susceptible to the forces and stresses involved in prolonged near work, including reading, studying, watching TV or using a computer — all of which are common activities for most of today’s children.
Dr. Todd has success in arresting the progression of myopia in children that he treats; in some cases, the degree of myopia has decreased. Dr. Todd achieves these results just by recommending that children under his care supplement their diet with a total vitamin and mineral formula which is particularly rich in the minerals selenium, chromium and zinc. The formula that Dr. Todd originally developed for eye and body health is EYEMAX-plus.
Dr. Ben Lane, New Jersey optometrist and another pioneer in the role of nutrition in myopia and other eye diseases, concurs in the importance of these trace minerals in maintaining the strength of the eye. Dr. Lane has found that chromium levels in myopic children are 1/3 that of children with normal vision. (It is interesting to note that chromium is depleted in the body by white sugar, eaten all too frequently by many children today.)
Calcium levels are also lower in nearsighted children. Dr. Lane found that children increasing in the degree of myopia have diets extremely deficient in calcium. Dr. Lane thinks that in the face of this dietary deficiency, the body takes calcium from the eye to help support bone growth. This calcium lack then makes the eye susceptible to the forces playing on it during prolonged periods of near work and visual stress. Dr. Lane has also found that these children also eat too much meat protein (a poor source of calcium) and too little calcium-rich milk products and stalky vegetables. Caffeine (found in soda as well as in coffee) is known to leach calcium from the body.