Our eyes are dangerous “Myopia Crisis” October 23, 18:01

“Taka is myopia.” At first we thought so. However, myopia is rapidly increasing all over the world, and the sense of crisis is growing. As I proceeded with the interview, I began to see serious risks that could not be neglected.

(Science and Culture Department, Reporter Takumi Deguchi / Director 3rd Production Unit Hiroto Oishi / Director of Social Programs Department Toshi Ishizuchi, all three are moderate myopia

More than 90% of junior high school students in Tokyo are myopic?

In August, a group from Keio University School of Medicine presented a surprising research result. A survey of elementary and junior high school children in Tokyo revealed that 76.5% of 689 elementary school students and 94.9% of nearly 727 junior high school students were myopic.

(Professor Kazuo Tsubota, Keio University)
“It is surprising that children have so much nearsightedness. To prevent nearsightedness, it is necessary to take measures since childhood.”

Myopia population is rapidly increasing WHO “serious concern”

Myopia is increasing rapidly worldwide. According to estimates announced by groups such as Australia in 2016, the population of myopia, especially in Asia, continues to grow, reaching approximately 4.8 billion in 2050. In that era, the world's population is expected to be 9.7 billion, so about half will be nearsighted.

WHO = World Health Organization has expressed “serious public health concerns” and pointed out the necessity of urgent measures.

Myopia is the phenomenon of “stretching eyes”

How does myopia occur in the first place? The human eye and eyeball become larger as the body grows, and grow in the front-rear direction.

However, if the eyeball grows excessively due to genetic factors or the living environment, it will not focus well in the eye and objects will appear blurred. This is the identity of myopia.

Especially during the upper grades of elementary school. Many people stop progressing in their early 20s, but once they have stretched their eyeballs do not return to their original state, it is important to take measures since childhood.

The risk of blindness from myopia

However, I think that the loss of visual acuity due to myopia can be corrected with glasses and contact lenses ... Actually, it is not such a light story.

When the eyeball stretches, the tissues behind the eye are stretched and easily damaged. In the future, it can cause diseases that lead to blindness, such as glaucoma and retinal detachment. It is said that the risk of blindness jumps up especially when myopia progresses to a state called “intensity myopia”.

We interviewed a 4th grade boy who was visiting an eye clinic in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. The boy's naked eyesight is less than 0.1 for both eyes, and when he removes his glasses, he can't see exactly 10 cm away. The result of the examination was “Intensity myopia”.

When the doctor examined the eyeball, the retina that received external light stimuli was thinly stretched due to the extension of the eyeball. There was a risk of retinal detachment in the future, and regular follow-up was indispensable.

(Boy's mother)
“I am very worried because it is said that the possibility of blindness is not zero. I want to do what I can do as a parent by checking the eyes regularly.”

The key to preventing myopia is outdoor activities!

Myopia can lead to blindness. How can I prevent it? We visited the International Myopia Society held in Tokyo to find a hint. A word was flying around at an academic conference where the latest research results and countermeasures were announced.


This was advocated by Professor Ian Morgan of the Australian National University. Prof. Morgan's hometown, Australia, is known to have a lower percentage of myopia than other countries and regions. Prof. Morgan has been thinking about the reason, and the answer he arrived at is “outdoors”. In Australia, outdoor activities such as camping were thriving, and I thought there might be a connection between being exposed to sunlight for a long time and having little myopia.

When we examined the effect of light in an experiment using chicks, the eyeballs of chicks exposed to bright light for a long time were significantly less stretched than chicks in a dark room. Professor Morgan said that the effectiveness of exposure to the outdoors proved to be a mechanism.

Outdoor activities for children! Preventive measures at "government level"

There are places where these research results are actually being used to prevent myopia. Taiwan.

In Taiwan, about 80% of people under 20 years of age are myopic. The Taiwanese government thinks that measures from childhood are important to avoid myopia, and in 2011 began an effort to increase children's outdoor activities. In 2013, physical education classes were obliged to be conducted 150 minutes a week outdoors, and other classes were also recommended to be conducted outdoors.

When we visited an elementary school for coverage, children were in class outdoors. I was observing plants in a science class.

A light sensor is attached to the neck, and the amount and time of the light received at the school is also managed. Seven years after taking measures, the percentage of elementary school students with vision below 0.8 has decreased by more than 5%.

(Taiwan Health Welfare Department, Wang Ying Wei)
“Myopia is an important health issue, and we need to tackle the country with a view to the future.”

Not only prevention of onset! Drugs that slow the progression also appear

Some countries are already taking measures against children who are already myopic. Singapore has many people wearing glasses in the city. The world's first successful application of eye drops that slow the progression of myopia.

Originally, it was found that the use of a drug called “atropine”, which was originally used for a different purpose as a test drug, at a reduced concentration, has little side effects and can delay the progression of myopia.

In clinical studies, children who used atropine were able to delay visual deterioration for more than two years compared to those who did not use it. If we can slow down even a little when we are an elementary school student, it is thought that it will lead to stopping before becoming intense myopia, and in Japan, clinical trials are being conducted to confirm safety and efficacy.

(Part-time professor Donald Tan, Singapore National Eye Center who was involved in the development)
“Now myopia is being controlled. A new era has come.”

The current state of countermeasures in Japan ...

On the other hand, researchers who participated in the International Myopia Society heard voices of concern.

“The world is working on myopia, except in some countries such as Japan.”

In Japan, measures such as increasing outdoor activities at school are not taken as measures for myopia. Ask the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology…

(Director, Naoko Hirayama, Health Education and Food Education Division, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)
“At present, we do not have a clear answer to effective measures against vision loss that can be done at home or school.”

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, at the stage of investigating and analyzing the relationship between vision loss and the living environment, that is, the relationship between exercise time, studying, playing games, etc. I want to inform the school.

What should adults do?

So what should an adult who is already myopic?

Unfortunately, according to the chairman of the Japan Myopia Society and Professor Kyoko Ohno of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, there are no studies on the effectiveness of outdoor activities and atropine in adults. Professor Ohno recommends regular eye visits as a possible measure.

(Professor Kyoko Ohno, Tokyo Medical and Dental University)
“Myopia is not just a need for glasses or contact lenses, it is a major“ underlying disease ”as a cause of blindness and, like hypertension and diabetes, is a“ lifestyle disease ”of the eyes. It ’s important to know your eye condition by visiting an ophthalmologist. ”

I was worried about the author (reporter: exit) and immediately got an examination. I will continue to visit regularly. In order not to get serious illness in the future, why don't you start by finding out about your eye condition without thinking “Takaga myopia”?

Faculty of Science and Culture Reporter Takumi

Third Production Unit Director Hiroto Oishi

Director of Social Programs