Why do so many children in China suffer from myopia?

The growth rate of myopic population comparable to that of mirror matching,

What kind of glasses do you want? Shiny? Spotted or HelloKitty’s? Frames of various colors, styles, shapes and sizes, which is your favorite? No matter what kind of style, it can be easily found on the four floors of an optician shop in Beijing.

A pair of glasses can be made in half an hour, and the speed is convincing! However, more and more people wear glasses in China, and most of the new population are children.

In 1970, less than one-third of 16-to 18-year-olds were short-sighted (unable to see things far away). But now about four-fifths are short-sighted, and the proportion is even higher in cities. One-fifth of these short-sighted teenagers are highly short-sighted, that is, they cannot see things far beyond 16 centimeters.

The fastest increase is among primary school students, with more than 40% of primary school students now short-sighted, twice as much as in 2000. In contrast, the myopia rate of children of this age group in the United States and Germany is less than 10%.

More study and lack of outdoor activities

The incidence of myopia is high across East Asia, with 80-90 percent of 18-year-olds in cities in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan suffering from myopia. The problem is social rather than hereditary: poor vision is significantly associated with more time spent studying, reading, using electronic devices and less time outdoors.

This situation is more common in high-income families, who are more inclined to let their children concentrate on their studies. Across East Asia, there is a tendency for eyesight to decline with the increase of income and education standards.

The biggest factor of myopia is lack of outdoor activity time. Sunlight exposure helps the retina release a chemical that can slow down the increase in eye length, which is the most common cause of myopia.

Lack of outdoor activities combined with a large amount of close homework such as writing and reading will worsen the problem. If children have enough outdoor time, they can learn what they like and their eyesight should not be affected.

Chinese Parents Pay More Attention to Learning

However, China and other East Asian countries do not attach importance to outdoor activities. The myopia rate of 6-year-old children in China and Australia is similar. When entering school, Chinese children spend about one hour of outdoor activities per day, while Australian children spend three to four hours of outdoor activities per day.

Chinese students usually take a nap after lunch instead of playing outside, and then go home to do more homework than anywhere outside East Asia. The older Chinese children get, the longer they stay indoors, but it is not because of air pollution.

There is a problem that myopia does not match glasses in rural China.

Because myopia is related to higher income and more education, myopia is not very common in rural areas of China. According to the Health Planning Commission, one-third of rural primary school students are myopic, while nearly half of urban primary school students are myopic.

However, there are other problems that need to be paid attention to in rural myopic children in China: Stanford University’s Rural Education Action Project found that nearly one sixth of rural myopic children do not wear glasses due to expenses, poor eye care and the belief that wearing glasses will aggravate myopia.

However, the study found that improving children’s eyesight has a greater impact on educational achievement than improving nutrition or teaching quality. Another study reported that providing students with free glasses has the same effect as a year of extra education on improving examination scores.

We not only need to give children more outdoor activities and free glasses, but also need to take a long-term view so that children can see more clearly.