Lack of classroom lighting, low vision epidemic in Asia

The rich countries of the world have already managed to almost eliminate infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera and malaria. Now the health ministries of the countries have to think about how to eliminate problems like obesity. Many people are now interested in sedentary work than physical work. It increases obesity and heart disease. On the other hand, the number of people suffering from low vision has increased in East Asia over the decades. Studies have shown that the education system is one of the causes of the problem of low vision. Researchers say students are spending a large portion of the day in dimly lit classrooms. This is creating an epidemic of short-sightedness.
Economic development gained new momentum in East Asia since the 1960s. Till then there was no problem of low vision in this region. Patients suffering from nearsightedness or myopia can see well up close but see far away blurry, so they are called myopic. Children usually suffer more from this problem. In a study conducted in China, the trend of this problem among children has emerged during the Corona period.

According to a report titled ‘2020-A Year of Quarantine Myopia’ published in the American Medical Association’s medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology on January 14, the rate of myopia among six to eight-year-old children in China has increased from one and a half times to three times.

According to a report in the Economist, nearsightedness is almost universal among young people these days. More than 80 percent of school leavers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei suffer from this problem. More than 9 out of 10 young people in Seoul, South Korea suffer from this problem. Economic growth in China began somewhat later. But the situation there is now the same as Hong Kong, Singapore or Seoul. In some cities, including Guangzhou, China, nearly 80 percent of young people suffer from low vision.

East Asia is now the epicenter of this short-sightedness epidemic. But the western countries are free from this? Researchers say that western countries are not immune from this epidemic either. Accurate information on low vision is difficult to obtain from developed countries. However, research data suggests that the rate of amblyopia in Europe is 20 to 40 percent. A study found that in California, the rate of low vision is 59 percent among 17- to 19-year-olds.

Low vision is a lifelong affliction for many. This is a big problem especially for poor people. In some remote areas of China, many cannot afford glasses or contact lenses. Many families are in danger. School going children there are suffering. Many middle-aged people are suffering from eye diseases due to serious problems. Many are becoming blind in many cases. An entire generation is at risk of being myopic. This has created concern among the governments of many Asian countries. The time has come for the developed countries of the world to think about it.

Studies have shown that children’s vision improves when they are exposed to regular sunlight. Prolonged exposure to low light increases the risk of vision loss. The researchers said, this fact will help to understand why the rate of low vision is so high in Asia. In this region there is a tendency to spend long hours in the classroom as well as private study in the afternoon or evening. Because of this, children get less time to go outside during the afternoon sunset. This kind of problem is also happening in western countries now.

Special eye drops, glasses or contact lenses can reduce the problem of low vision. But prevention is better than cure. In this case, the simple solution of the researchers is to let the children play outside as much as possible or to ensure an open environment. Several studies have been done in Taiwan. The study involved keeping school students, especially primary level students, out of the classroom as much as possible.

It has yielded good results. But the big obstacle in this case is the behavior of parents. They consider classroom teaching more important. The government can play a big role in solving this problem. A little less time in the classroom can reassure worried parents that there isn’t much risk of disaster. Examples are Finland and Sweden. Countries did well in education rankings, but did not place much emphasis on classroom-based education.

So it can be said that a little more time in the playground will also reduce the obesity rate among children in developed countries. If the government is far-sighted, it will definitely give importance to children spending more time outside.