Ten percent of preschool children in New Taipei City, or 5,441 children, have symptoms of myopia, the latest survey by the city’s Public Health Department has found.
The department’s health management division director, Lin Hui-fen (林慧芬), said the city government carried out annual examinations of elementary-school children across the municipality.
Levels of elementary-school myopia in 2011 and 2012 were 54.35 percent and 53.17 percent respectively, Lin said, adding that schools arrange for further examinations in elementary school first, second and sixth grades, as well as for children entering junior-high school.
The rate of myopia for these four groups stood at 31 percent, 39 percent, 70 percent and 77 percent respectively, Lin said.
It is clear that as the child progresses through school their level of myopia grows, Lin said, adding that parents should not make their children study too hard.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Tien Hospital doctor Lee Shih-yun (李詩韻) said the trend stems from long periods spent in front of the television, as well as parents using tablet computers and smartphones as “electronic nannies” for their children.
The younger the child develops nearsightedness, the easier it is for the condition to develop into high myopia, Lee said, and in extreme cases, this can lead to the detachment of the retina, glaucoma or macular degeneration, with blindness the most extreme case.
Lee called on parents to prevent children, especially those of preschool age, from sitting in front of the TV or using computers or other devices for too long, adding that parents should stop using electronic devices as a means to placate children.