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Check Out These New Chinese Desks To Reduce Near-Sightedness

A new tactic is being tried to reduce the astonishing 90% near-sighted rate among China’s youth, and it’s a very . . . Chinese solution.

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An elementary school in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, has installed movable bars on their students desks in an attempt to curb nearsightedness. Myopia is epidemic among the youth of East Asia, who spend absolutely incredible, INSANE amounts of time indoors with their faces planted in books, studying. Estimates say that nearly 90% of Chinese kids are nearsighted. For contrast, the rate of myopia in the UK is 20 to 30%, and Chinese students in Australia show no indication of vision problems at this level.

While it has long been thought that myopia was a hereditary condition, the shear prevalence of it in East Asia are leading researchers to conclude that environmental factors may also be at play. It is now thought that dopamine plays a major role in the structural formation of the eyeball, and exposure to natural, outdoor light increases the amount of dopamine that the eye receives, so a lot of outdoor time is therefore essential for healthy vision development. So when kids spend long hours in classrooms, not outside in the sunlight, they are being exposed to an environmental condition that can trigger the unnatural formation of the eyeball.

Though this school in Wuhan seems to think that the problem derives from children reading at too close a range, so they put bars on their desks. I suppose it’s worth a try.

It’s a very Chinese solution: innovating a superficial strategy to make it seem like a problem is being address while subverting the need to make a fundamental change in the system. Rather than using up school time to allow kids to go outside or altering the education structure so as to reduce the need for kids to spend their entire youth inside studying, they soup their desks up to look like roller coaster rides.

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Filed under: China, Education

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3632 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

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