PPG Newsletter Issue No. 11

Upcoming PPG Community Events

By PUSD Parents Group

PUSD Parents Group launches its second Keep Myopia Away campaign in April.  Partnering with San Diego County Medical Society Foundation, PPG is pleased to present a free public health forum on prevention of Myopia and Computer Vision Syndrome on Friday April 29, 2016.  To register for the forum, visit www.pusdparents.org .

In February, PPG launched the inaugural Lunar New Year Awareness Week across schools in PUSD.  Thank you to all parent volunteers and all participating schools for making this event a great success.  Check out PPG online gallery: http://pusdparents.org/cultural-education/ .

PPG is in the process of incorporating as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.  We do appreciate monetary donations to support our incorporation and community events.  To make a donation, please visit http://pusdparents.org/donations/ .  Thank you for your generosity in supporting our community.

Safe and Creative Personalized Education (VII)

Keep Myopia Away in Digital Age

By Dr. Jessica Xu 

PUSD Parents Group advocates appropriate implementation of Educational Technology in K-12 schools. Last September in newsletter No. 5 PPG covered the promise and major issues in Poway Unified School District’s One to World 1-1 iPad program launched in 2014-2015 school year. One of the main issues is the escalation of digital device-associated health problems among children and teenagers, including Computer Vision Syndrome and visual stress-induced myopia. 

Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, has escalated globally in recent decades due to increasing screen time and decreasing outdoor time.  In the United States and European countries, myopia prevalence has reached 50% among young adults, compared to prevalence of about 25% half a century ago. Following are answers to some frequently asked questions about myopia:

Q: My eye doctor told me that myopia is a genetic problem and computer work doesn’t cause myopia. Is it true?

A: False.  Myopia is caused by different factors.  About 3% or less of the population are born with pathological myopia. A small percentage of population suffer from diabetic related myopia. However, the vast majority cases of myopia nowadays are visual stress-induced myopia, also known as simple myopia or school myopia. School myopia is caused by extensive intensive near-distance eye work. Many people experience higher visual stress when doing intensive near-work at digital screens, a health problem called Computer Vision Syndrome. With prevalence of digital devices, school myopia has increased significantly among children and young adults in recent decades.

Q: How common is Computer Vision Syndrome?  What are symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome?

A: Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain, affects about 90% of the population. Most common symptoms include eyestrain, headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pains. Children and teenagers are much more vulnerable because the eye continues to grow during childhood until about age 20.

Q: Why many eye doctors tell their patient myopia is genetic and there is no way to prevent it?

A: In earlier studies, researchers compared the difference in lifestyle between myopic group and non-myopic group in large scale surveys. Such studies did not take into account the difference in genetic susceptibility between the two groups and led to misleading conclusions. For decades, optometry schools taught their students that myopia was a genetic problem and was not preventable. Dramatic increase in prevalence of myopia among certain ethnic groups seriously challenged this old theory. Recent studies taken into account of genetic susceptibility have led to a better understanding that school myopia is affected by both visual stress and genetic factors. American Optometric Association (http://www.aoa.org/ ) and American Academy of Ophthalmology (http://www.aao.org/ ) state that actual development of school myopia is affected mainly by lifestyle.

Q: Is school myopia preventable?

A: Yes, school myopia is preventable. However, each individual has different susceptibility to develop school myopia under the same visual stress. Parents need to pay attention if their children suffer any symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome or other visual stress, consult the right medical professionals and intervene as soon as possible to prevent actual development of school myopia. 

While prevalence of digital devices has posted new challenge, the detrimental health effect of digital devices on eyes is preventable if we, as a society, promote and adopt healthy habits of eye usage.

Our eyes are precious.  Let’s take good care of them.

About the author

Dr. Jessica Xu is mother of two PUSD students.  Among her many community activities, she serves on PUSD Educational Technology Advisory Committee, Yale Alumni Schools Committee and Rancho Penasquitos Town Council.  Professionally, Dr. Xu is a consultant focusing on biotech and pharmaceutical industry.

Next issue:

Safe and Creative Personalized Education (VIII): Illiteracy, Dyslexia and Benefit of Early Intervention


PUSD Parents Group (PPG) is a fast emerging citizen group that seriously loves our Poway Unified School District (PUSD) and our community. We welcome all PUSD stakeholders within our community. Our mission is to strengthen the voice of our community. Our efforts are aimed at those who make change happen: PUSD parents, students, teachers and taxpayers. We highly value fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency and all things that will demonstrate PUSD honesty and reliable communication with the community.