In China, where around 81 per cent of teenagers have myopia, students are being barred from getting too close to their work. Another school has glass walls and as well as glass ceilings to expose children’s eyes to the light.
While about 30 per cent of the risk of myopia is genetic, experts say daily exposure to sunlight can stop the disease from progressing. One Chinese school is locking the doors for two hours a day, and refusing to let children back inside.
In Taiwan, where about 95 per cent of school leavers need glasses to see into the distance, parents can be fined $2200 for letting their children use devices for “unreasonable amounts of time”. It is regarded as a form of child abuse.
And in South Korea, a study of nearly 24,000 young army recruits found nearly 97 per cent had myopia, including 22 per cent with high myopia, Dr Wilson said.
“It’s very worrying,” said Dr Wilson, adding that the rise in myopia has been linked to increased pressure to study, more time indoors and greater use of iPads and other devices.
Maxime Jalbert-Locke has been told to go outside more often to stop the progression of his myopia. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Even more concerning was the high numbers of people – particularly young children and teenagers – with high myopia, around minus 5 or more, which can lead to diseases that cause blindness such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts.
What is myopia?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common type of refractive error where close objects appear clearly, but distant objects appear blurry.
What is high myopia?
High myopia is a severe form of the condition. In high myopia, the eyeball stretches and becomes too long. This can lead to holes or tears in the retina and can also cause retinal detachment. Abnormal blood vessels may grow under the retina and cause changes in vision. People with high myopia need comprehensive dilated eye exams more often. Early detection and timely treatment can help prevent vision loss.