China rolls out mandatory national standards to prevent myopia among students

An ophthalmologist introduces the structure of eyes to students of a primary school in Huai’an, east China’s Jiangsu Province, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Zhao Qirui/People’s Daily Online)

A set of mandatory national standards on juvenile myopia prevention was put into practice in China since March 1, requiring all school supplies to meet myopia prevention criterions, from paper materials such as text books, to classroom lighting and multimedia teaching systems.

All schools supplies produced, manufactured, operated and provided by enterprises, primary and middle schools, vocational high schools, kindergartens and after-school training institutions, must comply with the standards.

According to the World Report on Vision released by the World Health Organization last year, myopia affected about 2.6 billion people around the world, and its penetration among children and adolescents was kept rising. In China, around 60 percent of children and over 90 percent of adolescents suffer from this common refractive error.

Myopia rates among Chinese primary, middle school and high school students rose 15.2 percent, 8.2 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively in the first half of 2020 compared with those at the end of 2019, said a survey done by the Ministry of Education that investigated students in nine Chinese provinces.

The newly implemented standards will prevent and control myopia from multiple aspects, said the State Administration for Market Regulation.

For instance, the standards have different requirements on the font sizes adopted by textbooks for different grades. Textbooks for first- and second-graders must be printed with characters not less than point size 16, and those for third- and fourth-graders must be printed with characters not less than point size 14. The font size for fifth- to ninth-graders, as well as high school students must be equal to or larger than point size 12, while that for preschool materials must be not less than point size 16.

The standards also request textbooks and exercise books to be neatly printed without any visible smudge. Ink on study-use paper must be evenly distributed. Blurry prints and obvious watermarks are not tolerated.

Besides, flickering of multimedia teaching systems shall be imperceptible, and the systems shall comply with blue light protection requirements and offer suitable screen brightness.

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