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June 2, 2011

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Increase in short-sighted students

LOCAL middle school students spend on average 2 hours 48 minutes a day watching television or sitting in front of computers, and that figure rises to four hours at weekends, officials said.

This compares to a two-hour maximum recommended by the US and Canadian pediatric associations, officials from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said at a lecture on preventing myopia in children yesterday, which was International Children's Day.

A heavy academic burden, not enough physical exercise and excessive use of products with electronic screens are major causes of the high prevalence of myopia and a trend toward more young children suffering poor vision, local health officials said.

Shanghai CDC's monitoring data last year revealed that nearly 38 percent of local primary school students were short-sighted.

The incidence increased to 70 percent among middle school students and 86 percent for high school students, according to the CDC data.

These are higher than figures previously released by local health authorities, and seem to reflect increasing levels of myopia among local students.

Figure issued by the Shanghai Health Bureau last June showed that 27.5 percent of local primary school students, 65.7 percent of middle school students and 83 percent of high school students were short-sighted.

Myopia has become a major public health issue among domestic students as up to 60 percent - some 60 million young people - are short-sighted.

"Both the authorities and parents should increase awareness about students' optical health," said Luo Chunyan from Shanghai CDC.

"Lighting in school and at home, studying without breaks, playing video games for long periods and not taking enough exercise are important factors in the increase in myopia."

Experts said early education activities, including piano lessons, handwriting training and computer courses can cause eye fatigue in young children.

This can develop into myopia without proper intervention and treatment.


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