Research studies continue to confirm the alarming increase in myopia rates among children of Asian descent. A recent NPR story quotes a Xinhua News Agency piece claiming 86 percent of high school students in China suffer from myopia.
Scientists continue to seek to better understand what’s behind the acceleration of myopia in Asian populations. Increasingly, we know it is not simply genetics as environmental and behavioral factors like increased screen-time and reduced outdoor play seem to be significant.
A recent article in the Washington Post cites evidence of myopia’s increase being linked to cultures “where recess time in public schools can be limited to 20 minutes, and in parts of Asia, where the school day can be two or more hours longer than in Western countries, spend far less time outdoors.”
The article goes on to quote from a Lancet article finding that, “the higher prevalence of myopia in east Asian cities seems to be associated with increasing educational pressures, combined with lifestyle changes, which have reduced the time children spend outside.”
The article recaps evidence from recent studies in China and other East Asian countries reporting that, “data that shows a rural-urban split among children who become nearsighted with the assumption being that those in the countryside tend to spend more time under the sun.” It notes that a study in Nepal found that the prevalence of myopia in young children in urban communities was almost 300% higher than children in rural communities.
Treehouse Eyes serves a DC-Metro area with a very high concentration of families with children of Asian descent. In our Tysons Corner Vision Center almost 50% of our young patients are Asian and so we know first hand the effect the soaring rates of myopia is having at a deeply personal level.
In this WTOP segment on Treehouse Eyes and our singular focus on slowing and stopping myopia, the Ni family of Fairfax, Virginia is featured. The Ni’s myopia story is not an uncommon one, especially among Asian-Americans like themselves. Dad William Ni tells WTOP that both he and his wife have worn glasses to correct for myopia most of their lives.
The Ni’s were living in California several years back when their two sons, Andrew and Aaron, were diagnosed with myopia in the third grade. At first, they did what many parents do, they had both young sons fitted for glasses.
William tells WTOP, “We didn’t know of any other options,” until a friend told them about new treatments for myopia control, like orthokeratology lenses. According to the story, the Ni’s liked the treatment option for its convenience. “They don’t have to wear glasses during the day, and they do a lot of activities,” Ni said.
The Ni sons are now 15 and 17 and William has this to say about the benefits of myopia control for his family, “The best thing is that their vision hasn’t worsened. Other kids get thicker glasses; that’s not the case with my sons.”
Scientists continue to research and probe for answers to the seemingly manifold reasons that the myopia epidemic grows, especially its even higher rates among Asians. Treehouse Eyes continues to fight back against myopia accelerated growth with the revolutionary treatment options of ortho-K, atropine and other protocols.
Our patient families like the Ni’s are testament to the incredible, long-term health and lifestyle benefits of catching myopia in our children before it has a chance to progress.