PPG Newsletter Issue No. 22

PPG Community Events Update

By Dr. Jessica Xu

For the annual Keep Myopia Away health campaign, PPG will co-host with Champions for Health a joint Well Live San Diego forum on Keep Myopia Away in Digital Age at 7-9pm Saturday, April 22, 2017.  Join PPG to learn more how to take good care of your child’s eyes.  Online registration is due Wednesday April 19: http://pusdparents.org/ .

Thank you to all parent volunteers who participated in PPG’s 2nd annual Lunar New Year Awareness Week!  The event was phenomenal this year with 16 schools participating.  Check out some great photos here: http://pusdparents.org/photo-gallery/wppaspec/oc1/lnen/cv0/ab13#wppa-container-1 .

PPG relies 100% on parent volunteers.  All these activities would not be possible without proper financial support. PPG welcome monetary donations from parents and corporates to support our community events and basic operation.  To make a donation, please mail a check payable to “PUSD Parents Group” to PUSD Parents Group, 16450 Via Esprillo, San Diego, CA 92127.  You can also donate online through PayPal at http://pusdparents.org/donations/. Thank you for your generosity in supporting our community.

Safe and Creative Personalized Education (XIV)

The Importance of School Recess in Keeping Myopia Away

By Dr. Jessica Xu

Could the decrease in outdoor time and the increase of screen time be affecting children’s vision, as it is hard to believe that not too long ago there were more hyperopic, farsighted children than myopic, nearsighted children? 

Approximately 3% of the population had myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness while a slightly higher percentage of the children had hyperopia, or farsightedness.  Pediatric ophthalmologists used to treat more hyperopic kids.  However, myopia has escalated globally among children and teens in recent decades due to change of our lifestyle.  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.

For decades, doctors believed that myopia was a genetic problem and there was nothing to prevent it.  Dramatic increase in prevalence of myopia among certain ethnic groups seriously challenged this old theory.  In 2008, a study comparing ethnic Chinese children in Sydney and Singapore showed that prevalence of myopia among 6- and 7-year-old children of Chinese ethnicity was much lower in Sydney (~3%) than in Singapore (~29%) while prevalence of myopia among their parents was similar, 68% in Sydney versus 71% in Singapore.  Lifestyle is a significant factor in the actual development of school myopia.

Recent studies have led to a better understanding that myopia is affected by both genetic factors and environmental factors such as visual stress.  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 today are visual stress-induced myopia, also known as simple myopia or school myopia.  School myopia is caused by extensive intensive near-distance eye work.

 One major factor for the escalation of school myopia is the dramatic increase of screen time.  Many people experience higher visual stress when doing intensive near-work at digital screens, a health problem called Computer Vision Syndrome. Unfortunately, children and teens are most vulnerable. With prevalence of digital devices, school myopia has increased dramatically among children and young adults in recent decades.

Another key factor is the decrease outdoor time for children at school and home.  Studies indicate that school children spending at least 3 hours outdoor every day have lower myopia prevalence.  It used to be common for children to get 3 hours or more outdoor time when I was at elementary school.  However, it has become a luxury for children nowadays. When I was at elementary school, there was a 15-minute outdoor break every 45 minutes of class, or a total of four 15-minute breaks per day, in addition to one-hour lunch break.  Currently, my children get only two 15-minute recesses per day, in addition to a 45-minutes lunch break.  There were no digital devices when I was at elementary school either. The difference in myopia prevalence is mind boggling.  When I graduated from elementary school, only six or seven out of approximately three hundred kids (~2%) were nearsighted.  Today, more than 30% elementary graduates are nearsighted.  With this wisdom, schools should probably resume 15 minute-breaks every 45 minutes of class in K-12 schools.

 Every child has the right to pursue a healthy and productive life.  Whether our children can keep their good vision depends on what we choose at schools and at home.  Our children’s eyes are precious.  Let’s take good care of them.

About the author

Dr. Jessica Xu is mother of two PUSD students.  Active in the community, she serves on the board of PUSD Parents Group, 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.

Upcoming Event

Keep Myopia Away in Digital Age

Time: 7 - 9 PM, Saturday April 22, 2017

Location: Grace School

(16450 Via Esprillo, San Diego, CA 92127)

Online Signup: http://pusdparents.org/register-kmada/

A Big Thank You

Next issue:

Safe and Creative Personalized Education (XV) School Library in Education


PUSD Parents Group (PPG) is a fast emerging nonprofit organization 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.