Excessive use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablet computers has been blamed for the rising incidence of myopia among Hong Kong schoolchildren, a study showed.
Data released by the Department of Health showed that around 53 percent of Hong Kong children have become myopic or shortsighted upon graduation before they leave primary schools, the Sky Post reported.
A study conducted by ophthalmologist Fan Shuping showed that only 2.3 percent of 61 pre-school children suffered from myopia in the 1990s, but the ratio almost tripled to 6.3 percent of 823 pre-school children during the past decade.
Cases of myopia not only increased in number but also deepened in degree and affected younger children than ever before, Fan said.
The rising incidence of myopia among children is mainly due to the popularity of smartphones and other electronic devices, said Cheng Wai-chak, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Private Practice Optometrists.
Bad reading habits and early school age also contribute to the problem, he said.
Cheng cited the case of a four-year-old boy whose myopia worsened from 150 degrees to more than 200 degrees within just a year.
It was learned from his parents that the boy was spending two to three hours on his iPad everyday to study English and other subjects.
The latest eye examination on the boy, who is now seven years old, showed that his myopia has worsened to 400-500 degrees.
Cheng urged parents to allow their children to spend more time on outdoor activities in order to reduce their use of electronic devices and prevent them from developing myopia.
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