Near-work activity, night-lights, and myopia in the Singapore-China study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2002 May;120(5):620-7. doi: 10.1001/archopht.120.5.620.


Objective: To investigate the relationship among near-work activity, night-lights, and myopia in schoolchildren in Singapore and Xiamen, China.

Methods: The refractive error and ocular dimensions of 957 Chinese schoolchildren aged 7 to 9 years in Singapore and Xiamen, China, were determined using cycloplegic autorefraction and A-scan ultrasound biometry. Information on near-work activity (number of books read per week, reading in hours per day) and night-light use before age 2 years was obtained.

Results: The prevalence rate of myopia was 36.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.0%-40.3%) in Singapore and 18.5% (95% CI, 14.0%-23.1%) in Xiamen, China. The crude odds ratio (OR) of higher myopia (at least -3.0 diopters) for children who read more than 2 books per week was 3.50 (95% CI, 2.15-5.70). In a multivariate logistic regression model, the OR of higher myopia for children who read more was 2.81 (95% CI, 1.69-4.69), adjusted for age, night-light use, parental myopia, and country, whereas there was no association between night-light use before age 2 years and higher myopia (OR, 1.54; 95% CI, 0.92-2.58), after controlling for age, books read per week, parental myopia, and country.

Main outcome measures: The ORs of higher myopia for children who read more and children who are exposed to night-lights before age 2 years.

Conclusions: Reading (number of books per week) may be associated with higher myopia in Chinese schoolchildren. However, night-light use does not seem to be related to higher myopia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Human Activities
  • Humans
  • Lighting*
  • Male
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Myopia / etiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Reading*
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Work