China's Near-Sighted Population: Summer holiday sees soaring number of laser eye surgeries
Many in China are taking time out of their summer holidays to get laser-corrective surgeries. Hospitals and vision centers say more patients are coming in, hoping to ditch contacts and eyeglasses forever. CGTN reporter Hu Chao has more.
When done successfully, refractive eye surgery allows patients to say goodbye to glasses. And the laser procedure now takes just minutes. Some of these patients have just finished the surgery and walked out of the operating room.
PATIENT "Now my vision is just a little bit blurred. But I don't feel anything else since I just had an anesthetic. I had the surgery to join the army. The surgery was really quick."
PATIENT "I just don't want to wear glasses any more. Girls look better without glasses."
Many of these patients are high-school or college graduates, eager for the new opportunities or better looks they feel laser surgery will bring. This private local eye hospital has seen a sharp increase in the number of patients recently.
CHEN PENG, CHIEF TAIYUAN AIER EYE HOSPITAL "We do three to four times more surgeries during the two-month summer holiday than at other times of the year. We've been quite busy."
Doctor Chen also says the number of people getting laser surgeries now is six times more than three years ago. However, he warns prospective patients of the risks of any type of surgery.
CHEN PENG, CHIEF TAIYUAN AIER EYE HOSPITAL "Every surgery has advantages and disadvantages. It's not advisable for everyone. A full examination of your eyes is needed."
HU CHAO TAIYUAN, SHANXI PROVINCE "A soaring number of people getting laser-corrective surgeries for visions problems also reflects a growing number of near-sighted people in China. A survey from the World Health Organization shows half of China's population is near-sighted."
Shanxi Provincial Eye Hospital is often crowded with patients during the holidays. Many kids, mostly with near-sighted problems, are seeing doctors here. A 2018 survey from the National Health Commission of China shows more than half of China's school kids are near-sighted.
SUN BIN, CHIEF SHANXI PROVINCIAL EYE HOSPITAL "The vision problems of kids are now often triggered by rising pressure from schoolwork, more extra lessons during holidays, long time spent reading books and using digital devices and less time for outdoor activities."
Doctor Sun says sufficient outdoor activities have proven to be most effective to prevent near-sightedness.
SUN BIN, CHIEF SHANXI PROVINCIAL EYE HOSPITAL "Let the eyes bathe in the sunlight. By saying that we encourage young people to have outdoor activities for two hours every day. And it's better to spend two hours at different times of day."
Doctor Sun also says China's educational departments and parents should make joint efforts to help kids protect their eyesight. Hu Chao, CGTN, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province.