A Cross-Sectional Observational Study of the Relationship between Outdoor Exposure and Myopia in University Students, Measured by Conjunctival Ultraviolet Autofluorescence (CUVAF)
Valentina Bilbao-Malavé 1 2 , Jorge González-Zamora 1 2 , Elsa Gándara 1 , Miriam de la Puente 1 2 , Elena Escriche 3 , Jaione Bezunartea 1 4 5 , Ainara Marizkurrena 1 , Elena Alonso 1 2 4 5 , María Hernández 1 2 4 5 , Patricia Fernández-Robredo 1 2 4 5 , Manuel Sáenz de Viteri 1 2 4 5 , Jesús Barrio-Barrio 1 2 4 5 , Alfredo García-Layana 1 2 4 5 , Sergio Recalde 1 2 4 5
Myopia is the most common refractive error worldwide. This cannot be explained by genetic factors alone, therefore, environmental factors may play an important role.
Hence, the main objective of this study was to analyse whether outdoor exposure could exert a protective effect against the development of myopia in a cohort of young adults and to investigate ultraviolet autofluorescence (CUVAF), as a biomarker of time spent outdoors.
A cross-sectional observational study was carried out using two cohorts. A total of 208 participants were recruited, 156 medical students and 52 environmental science students. The data showed that 66.66% of the medical students were myopic, while 50% of the environmental science students were myopic (p = 0.021). Environmental science students spent significantly more hours per week doing outdoor activities than medical students (p < 0.0001), but there was no significant difference with respect to near work activities between them.
In both cohorts, the degree of myopia was inversely associated with CUVAF, and a statistically significant positive correlation was observed between spherical equivalent and CUVAF (Pearson's r = 0.248).
In conclusion, outdoor activities could reduce the onset and progression of myopia not only in children, but also in young adults. In addition, CUVAF represents an objective, non-invasive biomarker of outdoor exposure that is inversely associated with myopia.