Researchers in Singapore have found that newly hatched baby chicks raised in red light for up to six weeks developed progressive myopia, while those raised in blue light had progressive hyperopia.

More interestingly, the researchers were able to reverse the light-induced myopia to hyperopia in the chicks by exposing them to three weeks of blue light. Likewise, hyperopic chicks developed myopia after the same time under red light.

The researchers speculate that this manipulation of chromaticity could apply to the management or prevention of myopia in children.

But that remains to be determined, says Frances Rucker, MCOptom, PhD, whose research at New England College of Optometry also explores post-natal myopia development.

“Recent experiments have shown that blue light is important in preventing myopia development in chicks, but other experiments in monkeys have indicated that red light is important, too,” Dr. Rucker says. “Taking this into consideration, it is my opinion that optometrists should recommend the use of white light illuminants with a strong blue (but not UV) component—in other words, ‘daylight’ bulbs—to provide protection against myopia progression.”

This study builds on previous research on refractive error under blue and red light exposure, Dr. Rucker says. An interesting modification in this study is that the researchers didn’t use pure blue or pure red light, yet still acheived the refractive effect.

Foulds WS, Barathi VA, Luu CD. Progressive myopia or hyperopia can be induced in chicks and reversed by manipulation of the chromaticity of ambient light. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Dec 9;54(13):8004-12.