[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Study: Most myopic school-leavers in Asia
Study says long hours spent studying and lack of outdoor light to blame for 90 per cent short-sightedness rate.
Last Modified: 04 May 2012 23:11

A new study has found that up to 90 per cent of school-leavers in Asia's major cities are suffering from myopia, or short-sightedness.

Of these affected, scientists said that 10 to 20 per cent had a condition called high myopia, which can lead to blindness.

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, linked the eye damage with the long hours spent by Asian students studying as well as the lack of outdoor light.

Ian Morgan, a researcher in the Australian National University, said "most of what we've seen in East Asia is due to the environment, it is not genetic", contrary to the common belief 50 years ago.

Morgan said children who spent two to three hours outside every day were "probably reasonably safe".

The ones who are at major risk are the ones who study hard and don't get outside," he said.

"The amount of time they spend on computer games, watching television can be a contributing factor. As far as we can tell, it is not harmful in itself, but if it is a substitute for getting outside, then it is."

According to the study, the most myopic school-leavers in the world are to be found in cities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Researchers found that the average primary school pupil in Singapore, where up to nine in 10 young adults are myopic, spent only about 30 minutes outdoors every day - compared to three hours for children in Australia where the myopia prevalence among children of European origin is about 10 per cent.

The figure in Britain was about 30 to 40 per cent and in Africa "virtually none" - in the range of two to three per cent, according to Morgan.

More than other groups, children in East Asia "basically go to school, they don't go outside at school, they go home and they stay inside. They study and they watch television", Morgan said.

He said ways must be found to get children to spend more time in reasonably bright daylight without compromising their schooling.

"It is going to require some sort of structural change in the way a child's time is organised in East Asia because there is so much commitment to schooling and there is also a habit of taking a nap at lunchtime, which is, from our perspective, prime myopia prevention time," Morgan said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.