Purpose: To determine the relationship of nearwork and myopia in young elementary school-age children in Singapore.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 1005 school children aged 7 to 9 years was conducted in two schools in Singapore. Cycloplegic autorefraction, keratometry, and biometry measurements were performed. In addition, the parents completed a detailed questionnaire on nearwork activity (books read per week, reading in hours per day and diopter hours [addition of three times reading, two times computer use, and two times video games use in hours per day]). Other risk factors, such as parental myopia, socioeconomic status, and light exposure history, were assessed.
Results: In addition to socioeconomic factors, several nearwork indices were associated with myopia in these young children. The multivariate adjusted odds ratio of higher myopia (at least -3.0 D) for children who read more than two books per week was 3.05 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.80-5.18). However, the odds ratios of higher myopia for children who read more than 2 hours per day or with more than 8 diopter hours (1.50; 95% CI, 0.87-2.55 and 1.04; 95% CI, 0.61-1.78, respectively) were not significant, after controlling for several factors.
Conclusions: Children aged 7 to 9 years with a greater current reading exposure were more likely to be myopic. This association of reading and myopia in a young age cohort was greater than the strength of the reading association generally found in older myopic subjects. Whether these results identify an association of early-onset myopia with nearwork activity or other potentially confounding factors is discussed.