Japanese students’ eyesight the worst in recent years; smartphones and mobile games are blamed

By Koh Ruide, SoraNews24

Japan has a ton of quality mobile games that can entertain players for hours on end, but spending too much time staring at a bright little screen can be rather detrimental to vision.

Visual acuity data gathered from physical examinations conducted between April and June this year on all elementary, junior high, and high school students have shed light on startling trends among the Japanese youths of today. Specifically, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has revealed that a record high of 25.3 percent of the 3.4 million students failed to meet the 1.0 mark in vision tests.

The ministry said 34.1 percent of elementary students and up to a whopping 67.09 percent of high school students did not have 1.0 vision, the highest ever in history. Although junior high school students did not break any records this year, they still came pretty close at 56.04 percent (compared to last year’s 56.33 percent).

“According to experts, this can be linked to the increased time spent staring at screens caused by smartphone usage and mobile games,” warned the ministry.

Japanese netizen reactions were mixed, as some found it dubious that smartphones have such profound effects on children’s vision:

“I heard that you just get tired eyes, and that it does not affect our vision at all. Which is correct?”

“There are more kids who don’t play games at all but experience eyesight deterioration when they study really hard.”

“I felt my vision suddenly getting worse when I started studying for exams, and got myself a pair of glasses as a result.”

“It’s because of all that studying.”

Smartphones have changed our lives for the better, but it may be prudent to take regular breaks to allow eyes to rest, as maintaining a healthy vision is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. And if you are worried about your visual acuity, perhaps this mysterious optical illusion that only works for poor eyesight may help confirm your suspicions.

Source: Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Twitter user’s eyesight improves after playing VR game for five hours a day for five months

-- Under 35 percent of middle school English teachers in Japan meet government proficiency benchmark

-- Study reveals too much Internet and video games is bad for your grades

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I can attest to this with my two sons. Since they were young, they were "addicted" to the small screens and both of them are wearing glasses today because of it.

I have regrets, looking back at it, that we, my wife and I, didnt do anything sooner to ratify the situation, yet I am glad in a way that they found ways to make a living related to computers and the gaming industry. My oldest son works as a liaison between game programmers and the marketing and planning department of a software company, as he is also a game programmer himself. Not to mention my youngest, in University, only took his HD when he went off to college, as he "built" his own computer instead of carrying it with him!

No the end does not justify the means, and if I had to do it over, I honestly would probably have let them play the games anyway....just made sure they did it on a 50 inch screen from about 5 meters away!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Their eyes and stem levels are declining if you read the news. Yet when you go there they look very healthy and ate very active. You can also see lots of old people watching them through their glasses.

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They just didn't eat enough carrots ;) , and it can also be genetic. Now, about spending time on screen and gaming... u gotta look why it's happening, most of the parent let their kids playing with their phones to get ride of them, instead of doing activities with them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's not difficult to believe when kids are spending in excess of 40-50 hours a week with their faces stuck to these little screens. Even television is bad for your eyes if you watch it too long. However, there are more severe side effects to this phenomenon than just weaker vision. There are poor communications skill and anti-social behaviour and, of course, a decline in education levels.I you watch high school students on the trains, at least 90% of them are playing senseless games on smart phones. This number decreases slightly as the demographic gets older to around 50% of middle-aged men and women playing stupid and senseless games on their phones. Everything from Pachinko to that stupid join the balls game. I saw a woman in her 30's walk off a train platform while playing that stupid join the balls game.

I think Einstein nailed it many years ago, "I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots."

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I noticed this already when I came to Japan, a lot more people with glasses than back home.

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Back 25 years ago, I noticed a large number of kids wearing glasses in my classes here in Japan relative to kids in the US. I was a bit shocked to find so many kids wearing glasses by the time they got into JHS.

My theory was that kanji required them to squint and look very closely at all the little lines and marks (I still believe this today). In contrast to the English alphabet's 26 letters which are easily identifiable w/o careful examination.

Now with the addition of smartphones, everyone's vision seem to be deteriorating. Including mine since I'm force to use a computer for long hours for work.

I hope they can come up with a way to cut a hundred percent of the blue rays that screens omit.

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This will not end soon. The addiction is now just in its second generation. I dont see any reversal coming soon. Quite the opposite, much more will be coming soon.

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@Speed - My theory was that kanji required them to squint and look very closely at all the little lines and marks (I still believe this today). In contrast to the English alphabet's 26 letters which are easily identifiable w/o careful examination.

My theory is a little different and refers to Japan being a closed country for so many years. Combine this with pre-arranged marriages with cousins over many generations and it's not difficult to believe the Japanese gene pool is quite a dirty one. The teeth, the baldness in both male and female, funky genetic disorders like skin afflictions, birth deformities, autism and learning disabilities and so on. These all seem to be very prominent in the Japanese population compared to other Asian countries.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I have been working in IT for over 15 years. Staring at computer screens day in and day out. I have had a smartphone since before the iPhone made them popular and i use it an embarrassing amount. Yet i have perfect vision. 1.6 on the Japanese tests, which is the highest that the measurement machine goes to (i'm probably not much more than that though). Of course old age will do what it does to all of us, and sooner or later my close up vision will start to fail, but for now, 12+hrs of screentime i have per day has had any effect.

I am just one person though, and my experiences dont prove anything. I did read somewhere that the reason that Japanese kids have poor vision is because they are not encouraged to play outside as much (since so many live in apartments). The article said that the outdoor activities are vital to growing kids eyes (focusing on near and far objects), and without it, certain parts of their eyes dont grow properly.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Small screen usage not only cause of poor eyesight.  although it might be one of the factors involved.

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Japanese kids are also getting taller but weaker in the physical tests they do. The physical tests include grip strength, shuttle runs, stretching, and throwing a ball, so are quite comprehensive.

Like afanofjapan, I suspect a lack of playing outside. We're in inaka and local kids here exceed the national average.

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Screen use, reading small print, looking at bright screens in a dark room etc do not cause bad eyesight, these are urban myths.

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perhaps this mysterious optical illusion that only works for poor eyesight. .

Hmmm can't find what they are referring to.

There are muscles that atrophy due to lack of depth of screen usage.

Do many people get LASIK eye correction in Japan ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yet i have perfect vision. 1.6 on the Japanese tests, which is the highest that the measurement machine goes to (i'm probably not much more than that though).

Next time go to an opthamologist instead of your local glasses store to get your eyes checked!

You haven't even come close to the "highest". 視力検査 Shiryoku kensa can be measured over 2.0 or higher.

1.6 is not special depending upon the doctor you talk to, and who will also tell you that just because you have great vision, it does not make it perfect!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Guy who bumped into me this morning didn't seem to be able to see a thing except the newspaper showing the Yodo horse race results, or some other results, which he couldn't take his bespectacled eyes off of while walking. When I was a kid they blamed televisions and Sega and Nintendo for the exact same thing, and I still have 20/20 vision. When my parents were kids they were told vision was getting worse because they sat too close to the TV.

All hogwash for the older generations to complain over. There is an astounding number of people in Japan with bad vision and who need glasses. Both of my parents had near perfect vision, and non of my siblings or I require glasses (yet). The daughter of my friend and his wife, both of whom have had 0.8 vision since getting checked as kids (without smart phones), is... wait for it... 0.8. Yet they blame her playing games on a smart phone for it. Even if one parent has good vision the chances of a child being born and having bad vision, like the other parent if that's the case, are high.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yubaru is right, 1.6 is good but nothing unusual. I also work in IT, use PCs for the last 30 years, the secret is to have good monitor and take a rest from time to time. I got in japanese scale between 1.4 - 1.6 which depends on machine or doctor.
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@Yubaru/Zaruma I didnt say that to brag. I know that Africans often have well above 2.0; I was just saying i use screens alot and I still have 1.6, which is above the standard measurement of good eyesight (1.0).

I get my eyes tested as part of my yearly health checkup and thats all their machine goes to. I have tried at a few other places with similar results (and similar upper limits in the testing device). I dont really think i need to go to an ophthalmologist to find out exactly what my upper limit is - would they give me a gold star or something? All i know is my eyes are good enough to read small text on my laptop screen which is more than arms length away. And that i am fine with a 5" phone screen, no need for these monstrous phablet phones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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