Around 90% of Asian school leavers suffer from shortsightedness, with experts warning that China, Japan and South Korea are in the grip of a bad eyesight epidemic.
The reason? They work too hard, claim a team of scientists.
According to a report by the Australian National University published in The Lancet, shortsightedness (or myopia), is caused by intense periods of studying and poring over books – an activity encouraged among strict Asian ‘Tiger parents’.
Researchers claim that bad eyesight cannot be entirely blamed on genetics – referencing the biological link between glaucoma and Asian people discovered by the Philippine Glaucoma Society – as lifestyle factors may also be responsible.
The study pointed to the influence of the Asian education ethic that encourages children to push themselves to excel in their studies and extra curricular activities.
“The rise in myopia prevalence in urban east Asia might therefore be plausibly associated with the increasing intensity of education,” explains a researcher from the study.
“Moreover, east Asian countries with high myopia now dominate international rankings of educational performance.”
The higher prevalence of myopia in Asian cities has also been linked to an indoor lifestyle, as a greater exposure to natural sunlight can increase the eye’s protection against conditions such as myopia.
“The protective effect seems to be associated with total time outdoors, rather than with specific engagement in sport,” said the study's authors.
Experts also believe that eye conditions are the key to spotting underlying health issues.
Ophthalmologists can detect and diagnose a range of medical conditions - from eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma, to systematic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease - just by looking at a person's retina.
Now, take a look and see what your eyea are trying to tell you…