Researchers in Taiwan recently discovered children age seven to 12 who attended ‘cram school’ for two hours or more were at an increased risk for incident myopia. Cram schools—specialized prep schools that train students to meet particular goals such as improved performance in a specific subject or the passing of entrance exams—are common practice in many countries, including in Taiwan and Japan. While they may help students meet their educational goals, the experience may also negatively impact children’s vision.          

After analyzing 1,958 children with an average four-year follow up, researchers noted 26.8% had myopia at baseline, and 27.7% of those without pre-existing myopia developed incident myopia during the study period. The participants spent 0.68 ±0.86 hours a day on a computer, 0.63 ±0.67 hours a day reading and 2.78 ±3.53 hours a day on cram school. Those who spent two hours or more on cram school had a higher risk of incident myopia.

“Cram school attendance for ≥2 hours a day may increase the risk of children’s incident myopia,” the researchers said. “This effect may be due to increased near visual activity or reduced time outdoors.”

PW Ku, Steptoe A, Lai YJ, et al. The associations between near visual activity and incident myopia in children: a nationwide 4-year follow-up study. Ophthalmology. June 19, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].