Chinese authorities recently released plans to restrict the video game industry in an effort to address the growing myopia epidemic.1 The unprecedented move comes in the wake of President Xi Jinping’s call for greater national attention on optical health and the high incidence of myopia among the nation’s youth. One recent study found a baseline prevalence of myopia of 12% for first grade students in China, which jumped to 67.4% by seventh grade.2

While the Chinese Ministry of Education cited a heavy study load, electronic device use and a lack of outdoor activities as causes, some studies have also implicated video games—and that’s the target of the new policy. Authorities plan to restrict the number of new online games, limit playing time and explore the implementation of a new age-restriction system. The plans also call on parents to help by also limiting kids’ screen time and encouraging outdoor activities.

Gaming industry stock plummeted in response to the announcement, and gaming giants such as Tencent have announced their own plans to make international alliances to reduce their dependence on a home market.1

1. China targets video gaming to tackle myopia in children. BBC News. August 31, 2018.
2.  Wang SK, Guo Y, Liao C, et al. Incidence of and factors associated with myopia and high myopia in Chinese children, based on refraction without cycloplegia. JAMA Ophthalmol. July 5, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].