A recent French study aimed at identifying new modifiable risk behaviors for myopia focused on refined carbohydrate consumption (starches and sugars) in young children’s diets.

The study cohort included 264 children, ages four to 18, attending a French school. The researchers measured cycloplegic refraction and evaluated myopia risk factors, including family history of myopia, time spent outdoors, screen time, reading time, physical activity and consumption of refined carbohydrates.

Of the 264 children, 86 (32.6%) had myopia in at least one eye. More than half (180/264) of the children had a refraction less than 3D in both eyes (88 girls and 92 boys). The researchers found that refined carbohydrate consumption significantly increased the probability of myopia for girls but decreased it for boys. Myopia probability was also marginally significantly linked to increased screen time, while outdoor time showed some marginally significantly protective functions.

The researchers concluded that refined carbohydrates could be associated with childhood myopia, with increased probability for girls, but surprisingly reduced probability for boys. The researchers speculate that the frequency of carbohydrate consumption doesn’t capture boys’ chronic hyperglycemia and that boys tend to be more physically active than girls at all ages. “The study reinforces the belief that modifiable risk factors for myopia could be targets for future public health actions,” the researchers noted.

Berticat C, Mamouni S, Ciais A, et al. Probability of myopia in children with high refined carbohydrates consumption in France. BMC Ophthalmology. 2020;20:337.