Nathan Congdon Senior Advisor, Asia region Orbis International
The easiest way to show your eyes that you love them this year is to take yourself or your child in for an eye exam to check if you need glasses. Ironically, the biggest problem that adult and child eyes face in China today is also the easiest to treat: Myopia!
Myopia happens when the eye grow too long, and light is focused too far forward, resulting in the blurring of things that are far away, even when close-by things are clear. Myopia develops due to not getting enough time outdoors, and spending too much time reading, playing video games or looking at other things close to the eyes.
Halting myopia in its tracks is easy for young children: Just spend an hour or two a day, every day, outdoors. And don’t let kids spend too much time on homework or video games. Once it does happen, myopia is easy to treat: glasses that are prescribed to you by a qualified refractionist will get your vision right back to normal. Some parents, kids and even teachers think that wearing glasses will weaken their eyes, but in fact the latest scientific studies show that just isn’t true! Wearing glasses if you need them shows that you love your eyes!
There are some numbers about myopia in China that you should know:
Half of all children in the world with vision loss due to having no glasses for myopia live in China.
In some major Chinese cities, the proportion of kids with myopia can exceed 90%
Myopia causes over 90% of vision loss in Chinese kids, and in rural areas, only about 20% of kids who need glasses have them.
Though myopia is safely and inexpensively treated with a simple pair of glasses, when the eye becomes too long (“high myopia”), more serious problems, like glaucoma, retinal detachment and cracks in the back of the eye can occur. These problems cannot be treated with glasses alone, and some of them are not treatable at all. As the rates of myopia climb quickly in China due to school pressure and too little time outdoors, high myopia is climbing, too. The best approach is prevention: children should spend more time outdoors, and avoid too much homework at an early age. Orbis China is working closely with our partners in Shanghai to build and test a model to detect, treat and prevent high myopia and save vision of those affected.
If you want to tell your eyes that you love them, take your eyes, or your child, to the doctor today for an exam to see if you have myopia. They will provide you with a pair of good-quality glasses: your ticket to clear vision!