Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Myopia pervasive by the ninth grade: poll

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY:The HPA director-general said vision should be protected from a young age, including even prohibiting young children from using electronic devices

By Wu Liang-yi and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

By the time students reach the ninth grade, 89.3 percent of them are nearsighted, according to a study published by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH).

Myopia of minus-5 diopters (500 degrees) is exhibited by 35.7 percent of students by the time they reach the 12th grade, the study showed.

Elementary-school students in all grades saw an average increase from 2010 to last year in the percentage of students with nearsightedness, said the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration (HPA), which commissioned the study last year.

Compared with a 2010 study, the percentage of second-grade students with nearsightedness increased to 38.7 percent from 28.3 percent, while the percentage of sixth-grade students with nearsightedness increased to 70.6 percent from 62 percent, the study showed.

Even kindergarten students showed a 2 percentage point increase — from 7 to 9 percent — over the seven-year span, the HPA added.

The study, which used dilated-pupil fundus examinations to measure the vision of school-aged students, also showed that 0.5 percent of kindergarten students, 10.3 percent of sixth-grade students, 28 percent of ninth-grade students and 35.7 percent of 12th-grade students have more than 500 degrees of myopia.

The increase in the prevalence rate of myopia across all age groups, especially in junior high-school students, could be related to the wide availability of electronic devices, causing many students to overstrain their eyes, said NTUH Department of Ophthalmology attending physician Wang I-jong (王一中), who led the study.

The myopia of nearsighted school-aged children increases by 75 to 100 degrees per year on average, HPA Director-General Wang Ying-wei (王英偉) said, adding that vision should be protected from a young age.

People should spend two to three hours per day engaging in outdoor activities, reduce the amount of time that they use their eyes at a close distance, allow their eyes to rest for 10 minutes after every 30 minutes of use and prohibit young children from using electronic devices, Wang added.

In a research article titled “Outdoor Activity during Class Recess Reduces Myopia Onset and Progression in School Children” (Othalmology, May 2013), he and other researchers say that engaging in outdoor activity could control nearsightedness in elementary-school students, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Department of Ophthalmology director Wu Pei-chang (吳佩昌) said.

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