TOO much studying and homework could lead to childhood short-sightedness – myopia – that can then lead to serious eye diseases.
Myopia causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close ones can be seen clearly, and it often develops in childhood. It was thought that myopia was largely genetic, but a sharp increase in the number of children affected suggests that other factors may play a part and a study by the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s University of London has found that children at highly academic schools were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to develop the condition.
This discovery has led researchers to conclude that school work could be a strong risk factor in myopia as children are continually focusing on something close to them as they stare at school books and computers and their eyes get used to the short-sighted work.
The study findings echo results from other research in East Asia, where children are often pushed academically from a very young age, with a lot of children suffering from the condition. Sixty years ago, 10 to 20 per cent of the Chinese population was short-sighted but now up to 90 per cent of teenagers have myopia.
There are concerns that being short-sighted may raise the risk for millions of young people suffering from eye conditions later in life, such as glaucoma.