Chinese children's poor eyesight and the traditional preventive regimen of daily exercises using acupressure.



Near-sightedness among Chinese school children, particularly in the lower levels, go unnoticed as blackboards are not primary teaching tools – a lost opportunity for early detection of poor vision. In the past, however, it was different. The wise of China, aware of the history of myopia in the community, had implemented an eye exercise regimen in the school system. The exercise chart is still displayed in every classroom. It illustrates the steps to manipulate, apply pressure and massage the acupoints around the eyes and in the face. It demonstrates appropriate posture including correct positioning of the knees and toes to encircle all the relevant meridians. Time is dedicated in the daily schedule and the instructions are broadcasted schoolwide. Sadly, the regimen is not properly taught to children in today's China. As the presence of 'home' teachers is not required during the exercise, the routine is not supervised closely. The regimen, however, merits investigative, analytical and efficacy studies to help revive a method of treatment rooted on prevention and traditional knowledge. Key Messages: 1. Precautionary principles and good public health practice dictate the inclusion of vision screenings in Primary Health Care (PHC). A simple vision acuity test assures early identification of those at risk and, when integrated within school health, it provides added benefits for children's learning and development. 2. Vision testing of Chinese children is particularly indicated because of the high prevalence of nearsightedness. Moreover, there is a widespread belief among the Chinese that wearing corrective glasses will “weaken the eyesight”. A pilot study conducted among 720 elementary school children by the author in 2012, revealed that children's poor eyesight were corrected only in one eye. 3. Thoughts about the value of tradition are receding in the Chinese consciousness. The more aware and affluent parents tend to visit “westernized” ophthalmologists not trained to include eye exercises in their treatment. Office time spent on education is not reimbursable – an insidious policy imposed by the globalized insurance companies. Efforts to relearn the ancestral knowledge and expertise, nonetheless, would benefit parents and specialists alike worldwide.


Sara Monajem

Public health practitioner, fellow researcher, health and language educator -- proud of our achievements in public health, saddened when I see public health and clinical services confuse roles. Always prepared to promote traditional knowledge and its intergenerational transfer. Invite fellow researchers, particularly of Chinese descent, to collaborate on the research that I am presenting at this conference.