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Short-sightedness Becomes a Public Health Issue

Experts call for the support of public policies to tackle the increasing number of short-sighted students in China

By Han Bingbin Updated Jun.9

Experts are calling for the support of public policies to cope with the increasing number of short-sighted students in China, according to local media.  

China currently reports the largest prevalence of short-sightedness in the world. A national survey in 2014 showed that as many as 86 percent of college students had been diagnosed as short-sighted.  

Yin Lianrong, chief oculist at the eye hospital under the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, was quoted by Caixin.com as suggesting that children should have their eye conditions checked and filed annually starting at three years old so that they can receive immediate treatment when any vision problems become apparent.   

Short-sightedness is more than a medical issue, Yin said, noting that it’s a “public issue,” the solution to which would require the participation of parents, schools, medical institutions and, most importantly, the government.   

Li Ling, professor at the China National Health Development Research Center under Peking University, told China Economic Herald that vision correction should be covered by medical insurance. If one yuan out of every 40 yuan spent on pubic health per capita in China were used for the eye care of young people, Li said, that would save a considerable amount on vision treatment in the future.  

As sufficient outdoor activities are believed to be an effective way to prevent short-sightedness, Yin said it’s necessary for schools to make sure that students are given enough time for PE classes and extracurricular activities. That means the Ministry of Education should continue to lighten the students’ workloads, said Yang Zhikuan, ophthalmology professor at Central South University, cited by Caixin.com.