Eye Exercise in China

Almost every student from kindergarten to high school in China is asked to do eye exercise every day after class for the purpose of protecting the eyesight since 1960s. What the interesting thing is, the validity of eye exercise was not verified before spread throughout the nation.

As recorded in Rong Zhao’s paper (2009), the eye exercise was invented by a physical education teacher named Shiming Liu in 1963, who had an operation for glaucoma and then created it for recovering his eyesight. Then, the exercise was accidentally discovered by Beijing education bureau, which was slightly modified and published on Beijing Daily News. After that, this eye exercise was rapidly spread to the nationwide. After years of effort, the traditional eye exercise was simplified to four set of movement which were basically pressing or rubbing a few points around the eyes, which were called acupuncture point by traditional Chinese medicine. So, the eye exercise is popular in China for decades without performing clinic trial and statistical study of epidemiology.

Not until recent years, researchers in Capital Medical University evaluated the efficiency of eye exercise on reducing accommodative lag of children and found that it is insufficient in preventing myopia progression in the long-term (Li et al., 2015). Besides, there were reports that two students hurt the corneas on account of rubbing too hard (Yongchun Li, 1991). To date, eye exercise is still popular in Chinese schools.

This example proves that it can be ridiculous and dangerous without scientific evaluation system and if power of making policies falls into wrong hands. It is fortunate that the eye exercise for now doesn’t do harm to eyesight. Otherwise, countless of children would become victims of wrong policies. Science is a social thing that cannot avoid interferes of social factors. So, to guarantee that science can be fairly and properly used in human societies, science communities may make more efforts to get involved in different fields that can have significant influence on human lives like government, education, etc.


Rong Zhao, Xiangui He, Jianfeng Zhu. (2009). A brief introduction of eye exercise history. Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine. Vol 21 No.5, 214-217.

Li, S. M., Kang, M. T., Peng, X. X., Li, S. Y., Wang, Y., Li, L., … & Li, H. (2015). Efficacy of Chinese eye exercises on reducing accommodative lag in school-aged children: a randomized controlled trial. PloS one10(3), e0117552.

Yongchun Li. (1991). Comparison in efficiency of eye exercises. Chinese Journal of School Health. (4):251-251.


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