Japan to conduct 1st major survey on myopia among schoolchildren

Kyodo -- Apr 20
Japan will conduct its first large-scale survey on myopia among elementary and junior high school students, to begin as a government digital device rollout nears its conclusion, education ministry officials said Monday.

Amid concerns over the increasing use of such devices and their potential impact on children's health, the ministry will conduct the nearsightedness survey on 9,000 students -- ranging from first-graders in elementary school to third-year junior high school students -- in May and June.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology aims to come up with effective measures to protect children's eyes, as pathological shortsightedness can develop into serious diseases with a risk of the loss of sight in later life.

According to the ministry, the rate of students with uncorrected visual acuity worse than 20/20 vision rose to record highs -- 34.57 percent for elementary school children and 57.47 percent for junior high school students -- in school health statistics for fiscal 2019.

Many were believed to have suffered from myopia but it was difficult to carry out detailed exams at schools, the ministry said.

Research data also suggested over 70 percent of elementary school students in Tokyo have myopia. The condition could lead to serious problems such as glaucoma and retinal detachment in adulthood.

- Kyodo