Coloring books for adults have seemingly become a new fad for the nation’s white-collar workers to destress, but doctors warn that overuse of the books might cause physical problems and suggest limiting their use.
The coloring books focus on geometrical and floral patterns, as well as figures for coloring, with increasing claims that the process provides emotional release and calming of the mind, achieving the effects of art therapy.
Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital department of ophthalmology director Chen Ying-shan (陳瑩山) said that the department recently saw a patient who has used the method 20 minutes at a time three times a day for two weeks before coming to the hospital complaining of sore and puffy eyes with accompanying sensations of pain and numbness.
The patient has greater than minus-8 diopters in both eyes and has developed minor symptoms of presbyopia, the department said.
“The coloring books require users to focus on detail and necessitate close scrutiny,” Chen said.
“Long-term close scrutiny can cause the eye muscles to become overly taut and might cause vision issues and discomfort,” Chen said, adding, however, that after using ciliary muscle relaxant for a month the patient has fully recovered.
Chen suggests a 33cm distance from coloring books and a time limit of 20 minutes per day with at least a 30-minute break after coloring, or coloring before going to sleep, as the calming effect might aid sleep quality.
He also said that those electing to use coloring books should be sure to eat lots of green vegetables for their lutein content, which has a direct relationship to eye health.
Cheng Hsin Hospital doctor Yuan Wei (袁瑋) said that coloring focuses the attention of the drawer on the image to be colored, adding that it might decrease stress and calm the nerves.
However, Yuan said that coloring, like sports or carving, only offers temporary relief and if people have experienced anxiety or depression for more than a month, they should seek professional help.
According to books.com.tw, coloring books for adults accounted for half of the top 10 titles on their best-sellers list last week.
The Chinese version of Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford’s coloring book Secret Garden has been No. 1 on the online bookstore’s Chinese-language best-sellers list for four weeks.
Last week, five of the 10 best-selling titles on the list were coloring books for adults. A copy of Secret Garden was being sold every 30 seconds on the online bookstore last week and more than 1,000 pre-orders for Basford’s coloring book Enchanted Forest were placed within three hours of its release this month.
Books.com.tw executives said that 90 percent of coloring book purchases were made by women from 27 to 44 years of age.
An office worker surnamed Lin said she heard about the coloring books from friends and wants to try it because she thinks coloring can help to relieve work pressure.
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