Photo Caption: Dr. Louise Katz, Columbia State professor of psychology, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal arts from the University of the State of New York and a Master of Science degree in guidance and counseling and a doctorate in psychology from Tennessee State University. Katz is a licensed psychologist in the state of Tennessee.
(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – May 11, 2015) - - - In an extension of her 2011 study published in the Journal of Behavioral Optometry, Dr. Louise Katz has completed a study that suggests a correlation between myopia and childhood stress, fear and abuse, which was recently published in the International Journal of Optometry and Visual Performance.
“There has been mention in the literature of stress being related to development of various eye conditions, but no research has been conducted on a possible relationship between childhood stress and the development of nearsightedness,” Katz said. “Since nearsightedness has become so common in recent years, we wanted to investigate this possible link.”
Katz said that the findings of the study do support this relationship, and the results of the study indicated that nearsighted participants scored significantly higher on the stress-fear-abuse scale than did normal vision participants.
These results also suggest that during childhood, nearsighted participants had lower self-esteem, were lonelier, experienced more criticism about their physical aspects, weighed more, sat closer to the TV, and may have experienced more fear and more very stressful events or situations.
“Although we don’t know from our data if these were present before nearsightedness developed or if they followed after the development of nearsightedness, we believe these are important findings and merit further research,” Katz explained.
Katz pointed out that the data support a relationship between childhood stress and the development of nearsightedness in children, but it appears to be complex. She noted that loneliness, fear, criticism and low self-esteem may be important factors related to myopia development.
“Our findings point to the possibility that nearsighted children actually experience more stress, but they may not be fully aware of the stress they experience until they become adults,” Katz pointed out. “In other words, it is possible that nearsighted children have difficulty with both visual and emotional perception.”
In addition to the “stress-fear-abuse” factor, Katz noted that, consistent with other recent research, there was a higher percentage of summer births among nearsighted participants. Based on her findings, Katz suggests that a mother’s diet during pregnancy may be the associating mechanism.
“We believe this finding may relate to the mother’s diet during the critical first months of pregnancy; for summer births this would be the winter months during which it is likely the mother would eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables,” Katz explained.
Lower consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in childhood was found to be associated with development of nearsightedness in Katz’s previous research study. She said that it is certainly possible that prenatal diet would have important effects on vision development.
Katz plans to continue her research on myopia and its development as its rates continue to increase. Katz partnered on this study with Dr. Kristoffer S. Berlin, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Memphis, who acted as the statistician for the study.
Participants for this study were predominantly undergraduate students enrolled at Columbia Sate in the spring 2012 semester. A total of 454 freshman and sophomore students from 30 classes participated, completing surveys that assessed both adult and retrospective childhood evaluations of their childhood stress.
Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.
Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org.
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