In desperate attempt to fight myopia, China invents goofy eye exercises

October 24, 2012Jing Gao3 Comments, , , , , , ,

A new set of eye exercises, which can reportedly relieve eye strain and help prevent myopia, has become the latest running joke on Chinese social media. In the demonstrative video, a little girl at about the age of ten keeps rolling her eyes and squinting sideways, which makes Chinese netizens, all of whom have grown up doing a different set of eye exercises, roll on the floor laughing.

The new eye exercises, promoted by Taizhou office of China Campus Health Movement and “Bright Angel” Students’ Eye Protection Center, include the following eye movements: Move eyeballs as far as possible to the right, to the left, down and up; roll eyeballs clockwise and counter-clockwise; close eyes and reopen them really hard. Many netizens, who strenuously followed the routine, reported that their eyes “really can’t take it,” but the little girl is really adorable.

The video (shown below) has been shared by tens of thousands of Weibo users and received altogether millions of hits on popular streaming sites such as Youku, 56, and Tudou within one day.

Demonstrative video of the new eye exercises

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Chinese youth are getting increasingly near-sighted. According to some media reports, as many as 90% of urban Chinese youth, or 360 million people, are afflicted by myopia and wearing glasses.

In addition, the current version of the vision therapy, which was invented four decades ago based on acupuncture points in Chinese medicine, has been strictly enforced in all primary and secondary schools across China, has been under attack for ‘lack of scientific basis and efficacy,’ which may have prompted the invention of the new set of eye exercises.

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In July, a microblogbger, who goes by the alias “Live from Shanghai,” railed against the so-called eye exercises on Sina Weibo, “The eye exercises have been doing harm to Chinese youth for 49 years. Of all the countries in the world, only China does these eye exercises by massaging totally useless acupuncture points. It cannot help improve vision. Many students contracted pinkeye and other eye infections from rubbing their eyes with dirty hands. Eye exercises were designed by Liu Shiming, director of Office of Physical Education at Beijing Medical School, and were adopted across the nation under state diktats without any scientific basis.

The post immediately got national attention and sparked a debate over if the current eye exercises should be abolished. While some experts in Chinese medicine defended the efficacy of the vision therapy and netizens are divided over the issue, there is wide consensus that the ever-rising incidence of myopia among students in China is mainly caused by the heavy workload from school and killing competition, particularly the National College Entrance Examination (gaokao), that they have to take in order to get into a decent college.

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3 comments to “In desperate attempt to fight myopia, China invents goofy eye exercises”

  1. CHINA | October 24, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    In defense of student eye exercises, I’ve often found that at least one specific exercise – rubbing the nerve on the upper-inner orbit of both eyes – actually does relieve tension and soothes headaches. Can’t vouch for the other exercises, however.

  2. Blacksoth | October 29, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The myopia is a result from the emphasis on getting children to put stress on the eyes reading when the eyes are still developing. Limit reading to short, periodic stints and you’ll solve the problem. Eye excercises do very little to combat the damage to the nerves you’re doing.

    The real debate should be — do you need that extra time of reading to get ahead in education at the expense of your eyesight?

  3. Vision | January 12, 2013 | Permalink Reply

    It’s good to see that the government is at least trying something to help the problem. Unlike the west that denies studying can make eyesight worse. However, there are definitely a lot more eye exercises they could try like the “Distance looking” exercise, which helps to counteract the continuous looking from near that leads to the Myopia in the first place. There is a list of even more eye exercises here: http://www.envisionselfhealing.com/exercises

    A debate on the need for lengthy periods of study, especially with children would be a great debate!

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