Every day, millions of Chinese children sit at their desk and diligently massage around their eyes in an attempt to improve their eye health and vision.

These acupressure eye exercises, based on traditional Chinese medicine ideas, have been carried out by decades of schoolchildren in China and are thought to help stave off nearsightedness, also called myopia. Rates of myopia among the country’s youth have reached epic proportions, with one 2015 study of Beijing high school students finding that 80% of the youth studied were nearsighted.

But very little high-quality research exists about whether the eye exercises really work, say vision researchers. The few studies that have tried unpack the usefulness of the practice have found no strong link between the exercises and lower rates of nearsightedness. For instance, results from the 2013 Beijing Myopia Progression Study, which studied 409 school children, showed that there was a “modest” effect of relieving temporary vision symptoms, like eyestrain and headaches, but no benefit in preventing myopia.

Chinese Students Try to Rest Eyes With Massage

Although many experts say they don’t work, physical exercises remain popular for students with tired eyes in China.


Eye Exercises from the People’s Republic of China