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Bright Eyes — Could Your Child Need Glasses?

July, 2005
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Parents of school-aged children may have good reason to worry about their children’s eyesight. According to statistics released during China’s national Love Eyes Day on June 6, 6 out of every 10 Chinese students are shortsighted.

  In a recent survey among Korean students in Beijing conducted by James Charles, an Australian optometrist, the result were not much more IMG_1025 optimistic: 24.8 per cent of the 381 students surveyed require glasses.

  Charles’ survey also shows that only 9.09 per cent of students at the age of nine wear glasses; however, for children 12 years old, the percentage rises to 35.5 per cent. Charles, the first foreign eye doctor licensed in China, attributes the sharp difference to more reading.

  “If the aforementioned children do not wear glasses in time, they can develop problems such as blurred vision, a lazy eye or a turned eye,” Charles said.

  Besides shortsightedness, UV radiation is also a common problem, which often goes undetected because its harmful effects do not show up until a much later period in life.

  Conjunctivitis, corneal dryness and inflammation are also common eye problems among children, too.

  How do you know if your child has an eye problem?

  “When children can’t see very well, they squint their eyes, or turn their heads so that they can see clearly,” said Charles. “Also if they can’t see clearly, they may not pay as much attention in class as they did before.”

   Charles suggests that parents take their children for an eye exam to look for any undetected problems as soon as they discover a possible problem with their vision.

  As for eye surgery, Charles insists such extreme measures be put at the bottom of the list of choices. He suggests parents and young people see if eye exercises or glasses can solve the problem first.

  “Surgery is something you do only if a medical professional suggests it.”

  Wang Xiaohong, a campus doctor at the Yew Chung International School of Beijing, also believes that most children’s shortsightedness is formed during their adolescence when they use their eyes the most, reading books, watching TV or staring at computer screens.

  “Parents and the school can work together to prevent eye problems for children,” Wang said.

 IMG_1034 One thing schools can do is to provide a bright study environment for their students. Teachers should remind students to maintain proper posture and to adjust the height of their tables and chairs, as this can slowly affect one’s vision. For example, when a child writes, his or her eyes should be at least one foot above the table, and his or her chest a fist’s distance from the table. The child should sit upright when he reads and should not read in a lying position. Meanwhile, parents should ask their children not to watch TV or play computers for extended periods of time. Usually one hour of viewing or playing on the computer is considered the one time maximum. Giving eyes a break is the best way to keep them sharp.

  “There should also be a balance in the curriculum between work indoors, outdoor activities and rest,” Wang said.

  A balanced diet can also help prevent vision problems. Wang suggests giving children food rich in vitamin A, such as eggs, carrots (cooked) and pig liver, or any green vegetables, many of which might be a good idea for dieting parents too!

Some common eye problems:

  • One of the most common eye problems for kids is getting something in their eye. Playing in sand or with small toys or arts and crafts products is an easy way to get something in the eye. Of course, these activities are unavoidable, so just encourage them to never rub their eyes, and if they begin feeling irritation have them rinse their eyes or take them to see a doctor.
  • Sports injuries are another common way for children to encounter eye problems. Ball games and jumping rope are some of the most common injury prone activities. Simply remind your child to be careful and let you know if they feel any pain. Little ones should also be kept from playing with toys or objects with sharp edges.
  • Inflammation of the conjunctiva is another common problem with children. Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is usually caused by viral or bacterial infection, mostly through touching another child who is already infected. Therefore children should be urged to wash their hands often and to avoid rubbing their eyes.
  • As always, hand washing is the first defence for keeping kids’ eyes clean and safe, especially after using school or public restrooms, using computer keyboards or having fun with shared toys.
  • If a child experiences any pain in the eye, teachers or parents should take the child in to see a doctor immediately.
  • Keeping things clear
  • Before children start school, parents should take them in for an eye exam to make sure their child doesn’t need glasses and is free of any eye health issues.
  • If your child already wears glasses, make sure to take him or her in for a yearly eye exam to make sure prescriptions are up to date, no hidden eye problems exist and that the glasses are fitting and in working order.

Eye Care in Beijing

Beijing Intech Eye Hospital 北京英智眼科医院

Specialized private hospital managed in a Western style.

Address: 4th-5th floors, Panjiayuan Plaza, 12 Panjiayuan Nanli 潘家园南里2号潘家园大厦

T el: 6771-5558

Beijing United Family Hospital and Clinics 和睦家医院

General hospital with eye care facilities.

Location: No 2 Jiangtailu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区将台路2号

Tel: 6433-3960

SK Hospital 北京爱康医院

A private international hospital with eye care staff.

Location: No 11 Shuiduizi Beili, Chaoyang District. Opposite the eastern gate of the Chaoyang Gymnasium. 朝阳体育馆东门对面,水碓子北里11号

Tel: 8596-1677

International Department, Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital 中日友好医院国际医疗部

Location: Yinghuadongjie, Chaoyang District 朝阳区樱花东街

Tel: 6422-2952

Beijing Tongren Hospital Eye Centre

北京同仁医院眼科中心

Specialized public eye hospital.

Location: 104 Chongwenmennei Dajie 崇文门外大街104号

Tel: 6512-9911 ext 5799

Ophthalmic Department, Hospital affiliated to the Peking Union Medical College 协和医院眼科中心

A comprehensive public hospital with an eye care department.

Location: Dongdan Santiao, Dongcheng District 东单三条

Tel: 6529-6352

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