Higher Whole Grain Intake May Protect Against Myopia in Children

A diet rich in whole grains may have a protective effect against myopia.

Higher whole grain intake may be associated with reduced myopia prevalence among children, according to research published in BMC Ophthalmology.  

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional, epidemiological study of 586 schoolchildren (age range, 6-12 years; 313 boys; 100% Chinese) between November 2019 and December 2019. All participants underwent ophthalmologic examinations including cycloplegic refraction and provided investigators with demographics, known myopia risk factors, and nutritional information detailing the intake of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. 

Based on this information, investigators stratified participants into 1 of 3 groups depending on the proportion of whole grains consumed in 1 day (<25%, 25%-50%, and >50%). The team analyzed the association between the probability of myopia and the proportion of whole grain consumption after adjusting for protective and risk factors.

Of the 586 study participants, 226 (38.57%) had myopia in at least 1 eye. According to the report, whole grain consumption was inversely associated with myopia prevalence. And whole grain consumption greater than 50% was a protective factor against myopia following adjustment for age, sex, parental myopia, near-work activity, screen time, reading and writing habits, visual fatigue, outdoor time, and classroom light environment (all P <.05).

Interestingly, modifying the form of grains consumed (whole vs refined) could be a potential public health measure against myopia.

Stratification by age revealed that a daily whole grain intake greater than 50% was not a significant factor in children aged 6 to 8 years, but protected against myopia in children aged 9-12 years — a finding investigators attribute to “increased intensive near-work and educational pressures and less outdoor activities” noted among the older children.     

“A clear inverse association was observed between the prevalence of myopia and [whole grain] intake,” according to the study authors. “A higher proportion of [whole grain] intake had a protective effect against myopia development. Interestingly, modifying the form of grains consumed (whole vs refined) could be a potential public health measure against myopia.”

Study limitations include a retrospective design, exploratory nature, the potential for recall bias, and homogeneity among the cohort that may limit the globalization of these findings.


Liu Z, Wang Q, Zhao Q, et al. Association between whole-grain intake and myopia in chinese children: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. BMC Ophthalmol. Published online January 2, 2023. doi:10.1186/s12886-022-02764-6