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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Parents turning blind eye as covid takes student toll

Parents turning blind eye as covid takes student toll

Parents have not been taking care of their children's eyesight, which has worsened during the Covid pandemic - with 30 percent of pupils suffering from short-sightedness, Chinese University researchers have found.
That conclusion emerged in a survey conducted last June of 19,000 primary and secondary students - mostly between primary three and secondary three - as well as their parents and teachers.

Although over half of the parents said they found their children's eyesight had deteriorated amid the pandemic, most did not do anything about it.

Statistics revealed that 30 percent of pupils in primary three and 34 percent in primary six wear glasses, but the figure was at 66 percent among secondary three students.

Researchers said class suspensions amid Covid social distancing measures and limited outdoor activities had restricted pupils' offline activities, contributing to their vision deteriorating.

"Physical classes were replaced by online classes and social activities were restricted," said Clement Tham Chee-yung, chairman of the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences.

"Pupils spent less time outdoors and more time online doing homework and reading."

Results also showed that parents' vision complications - including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, strabismus and amblyopia - are strongly linked to similar issues in children.

Among those who do not wear glasses, many reported vision complications including astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia.

Over half of the parents said they did not take any remedial actions to stabilize their children's eyesight.

"As reported by schools, teachers and principals claimed that they had given extra advice on eye care during the pandemic. However, this was not confirmed in pupils' responses," said educational psychology professor Hau Kit-tai.

The sector should work with medical professionals to raise awareness of eye health among pupils through large-scale campaigns, he added.

The university reiterated that myopia can lead to vision-threatening complications - including glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment and cataract - adding that the onset and progression of myopia in children has to be prevented and controlled to reduce risks.

Associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences Jason Yam Cheuk-sing recommended pupils spend at least two hours outdoors daily to prevent myopia and develop healthy reading habits when using digital devices.

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