Sydney, Australia, 7 June 2017: China is undergoing rapid transformation with increasing urbanisation, upward social mobility with increasing use of technology. This social change has brought pressure to perform well academically and seen a growing popularity and usage of electronic devices, such as tablets and mobile phones. As with other parts of South East Asia, the prevalence of myopia in China exponentially increases with age, with studies reporting rates of 60% among 12-year-olds, reaching 80% in 16 years old and surpassing 90% in university students.
Numerous studies have identified school age as a point when the progression of myopia increases dramatically in children. Research conducted at schools in the Chinese city of Shanghai recently has added to this evidence. The Shanghai Children Eye Study revealed the rate of myopia increased dramatically from around 5% in 6 year-olds to 52% in 10 year-old children (an increase of approximately 10% per year).1
While further research is necessary to understand the key mechanisms involved in this acceleration in progression, the authors suggest that the risk of myopia may be even greater in ‘high level’ schools in China. Observing that children at these schools ‘experience greater homework demands and pressure from teachers, parents, and peers to study,’ they highlight the conclusions of several studies that ‘educational exposure’ is an ‘important environmental risk factor for myopia.’
The study was published in ‘Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science’ in November 2016. It is an open access article and can be viewed here: http://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2585947
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1. Ma Y, Qu X, Zhu X, Xu X, Zhu J, Sankaridurg P, Lin S, Lu L, Zhao R, Wang L, Shi H, Tan H, You X, Yuan H, Sun S, Wang M, He X, Zou H, Congdon N. Age-Specific Prevalence of Visual Impairment and Refractive Error in Children Aged 3–10 Years in Shanghai, China, 2016 Nov 1;57(14):6188-6196.