BEIJING - China's growing number of bespectacled youth have caught the attention of national leaders.
On June 6, the annual National Eye Health Day, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan ordered schools and health departments to do more to prevent shortsightedness among young people.
Sun, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the central authorities have crafted measures to deal with this specific problem and strict enforcement at local levels is now needed.
Health experts say more than 450 million Chinese suffer from shortsightedness, which occurs more often among children and junior adults. Bad reading habits and overuse of electronic devices are to blame.
In Beijing alone, 58.6 percent of students in primary and middle schools suffer from poor eyesight, according to a government survey conducted two years ago.
The students' eyesight deteriorates as they advance in their studies, the survey has found. A whopping 89.4 percent of senior high students were found to have eyesight problems.
When visiting a primary school in central Beijing, Sun said schools should improve infrastructure to ensure a good learning environment and step up supervision to correct bad habits that harm students' eyesight.
She said schools are regarded as "the main battlefield to fight shortsightedness" because students spend a lot of time on campus.
Schools should strictly enforce the twice-a-day eye exercise routine and set aside at least one hour a day for students to do physical activities, Sun ordered.
She suggested education authorities add eyesight protection to schools' performance assessments.
During her visit to a community health center, Sun urged health workers to set up dossiers to monitor changes in each student's eyesight and intervene as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration, especially acute shortsightedness.
"We should create a good environment in which the government takes overall charge, departments cooperate, experts give guidance, schools educate, and families pay attention," Sun said. "Let every child have a pair of bright eyes for their bright future."