Objective: To study the associations between near work, outdoor activity, and myopia among children attending secondary school in rural China.
Methods: Among a random cluster sample of 1892 children in Xichang, China, subjects with an uncorrected acuity of 6/12 or less in either eye (n = 984) and a 25% sample of children with normal vision (n = 248) underwent measurement of refractive error. Subjects were administered a questionnaire on parental education, time spent outdoors, and weekly time spent engaged in and preferred working distance for a variety of near-work activities.
Results: Among 1232 children with refraction data, 998 (81.0%) completed the near-work survey. Their mean age was 14.6 years (SD, 0.8 years), 55.6% were girls, and 83.1% had myopia of -0.5 diopters or less (more myopia) in both eyes. Time and diopter-hours spent on near activities did not differ between children with and without myopia. In regression models, time spent on near activities and time outdoors were unassociated with myopia, adjusting for age, sex, and parental education.
Conclusions: These and other recent results raise some doubts about the association between near work and myopia. Additional efforts to identify other environmental factors associated with myopia risk and that may be amenable to intervention are warranted.