China’s Middle-Class Students Have Higher Risk for Myopia

April 10, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. middle-class /ˈmɪd l klæs/ (adj.) – having average social-economic status; between the higher and lower class
Example: The tuition in middle-class schools is somewhat affordable.

2. myopia /maɪˈoʊ pi ə/ (n.) – an eye condition wherein one cannot see far objects clearly
Example: He was diagnosed with myopia at the age of four.

3. hereditary /həˈrɛd ɪˌtɛr i/ (adj.) – being able to be passed on by parents to children, usually traits or diseases
Example: Some forms of anemia are hereditary.

4. distrust /dɪsˈtrʌst/ (n.) – lack of trust or having doubts about something
Example: The family has distrust on herbal medicines.

5. load /loʊd/ (n.) – the amount of something
Example: He lightens his work load by doing tasks in advance.


Read the text below.
Researchers found that children from a middle-class province in China are more prone to myopia than kids from a poor province.

The study compared over 9,400 students in Shaanxi [SHAHN-SHEE] with more than 10,100 students in Gansu [GAHN-SY]. Shaanxi is considered a middle-class province, while Gansu is China’s second poorest province. The authors found that nearly 23% of the kids in Shaanxi have clinically significant myopia while only 12.7% of the kids in Gansu have it. In addition, a 69% increased risk of getting myopia was linked to being in the middle class.

A person with myopia or nearsightedness sees near objects clearly but has difficulty seeing far objects. This condition can be hereditary and may develop slowly or suddenly. Remedies include wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some cases may require surgery.

Despite the significant findings, the researchers cannot identify the main reason why fewer kids in Gansu suffer from myopia. In one hypothesis, they cited that the frequent use of blackboards during classes may have been the cause. However, the researchers recommend further studies to get conclusive evidence.

According to lead author Nathan Congdon, the citizens’ distrust on wearing eyeglasses may have worsened myopia cases in China. He said that many parents, teachers, and even rural doctors think wearing eyeglasses is harmful for kids. Congdon noted that in the rural areas, only one out of six children with eyesight problems wear eyeglasses.

In addition, co-author He Mingguang believes that China’s school system may be putting too much study load on the kids. He specified that most 10-year-old Chinese students would study from seven o’clock in the evening until midnight on weekdays.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think myopia can affect the performance of Chinese students in school?
·         Should schools contribute to programs lessening myopia in their students? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How competitive is the school system in your country?
·         What do you think can be the harmful effects of too much studying?

April 10, 2015