The Healing Sun

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Welcome. This website has details of some of my research on light, health and building design.

In addition to the books The Healing Sun and The Light Revolution, I have written and co-authored a number of technical reports, articles and academic papers.

The latest paper is a study of the myopia epidemic.

Myopia and daylight in schools: a neglected aspect of public health?

The Rise of Myopia

Over the last 30 years, myopia or short sight has become a global health problem. The most dramatic rise has been in Singapore, Taiwan, China's cities and elsewhere in east Asia. Rates can be as high as 80-90 per cent among children leaving secondary schools in the region. As many as a fifth of them have severe myopia and so are at high risk of sight-threatening eye problems in later life. In some Western countries, 40 per cent of adults are now short-sighted. Rates are increasing; although not as rapidly as in east Asia. The findings in this study suggest lighting in schools could be a factor in the epidemic.

The Myopia Mystery

The cause of myopia, and the means to prevent it, are unknown despite more than 150 years of scientific research. Many theories have been put forward to explain why children's eyesight gets worse as they go through school. Too much close work is one of the more popular ones, while heredity is another. Both have been hotly debated down the years.

Daylight in Classrooms

A century ago, it was widely believed that high daylight levels in schools could prevent myopia and so classrooms were designed for it. Then medical thinking changed. Myopia was thought to be an inherited condition and less was done to prevent it. Today, it is known that children's education has a far greater impact on their sight than genetic factors. The latest evidence strongly suggests the amount of daylight children get as they grow is important in determining whether or not they will become short-sighted. Evidence that daylight in classrooms prevents myopia is lacking as it has not been investigated properly since the connection was first made in the 1860s. But, given the serious ramifications of short sight for many millions of people around the world, and for the economies of countries worst affected, this should be revisited.

Read the paper here:

Hobday RA. 'Myopia and daylight in schools: a neglected aspect of public health?' Perspectives in Public Health, 23 March 2015.

Free to access from 24 March to 24 April 2015