Study: Haredim more likely to be near-sighted

Public health expert says health, education systems need to work together to prevent nearsightedness in children at risk.

Reut Hadar ,

Glasses (illustrative)
Glasses (illustrative)

A research presented at a conference held by the Israel Association of Public Heath Physicians showed that haredim are more likely than other sectors to suffer nearsightedness.

Participating in the study were 22,823 men aged 17-18, which showed that haredim are more likely than religious Israelis to suffer nearsightedness, with secular Israelis being the least likely to suffer from the condition.

Eighty-two percent of nearsighted participants were haredi, while 50.3% were religious and 29.7% were secular.

The research, which is the first of its kind to be conducted in Israel, was conducted by the IDF Medical Corps' Dr. Dana Baz, and included IDF candidates.

Dr. Hagai Levine, a public health specialist who heads the Environmental Health Track at Hebrew University-Hadassah and who served as Dr. Baz's thesis advisor, said, "The vast majority of youth who learned in the haredi educational system suffer from nearsightedness, in comparison to those who learned in the religious public schools or public schools. Not only that, the chance that a haredi will be severely nearsighted is significantly higher than that of those who studied in other school systems."

"It is almost certain that the requirements involved in haredi education, which obligate the student to put a lot of effort into reading up close from a young age, contribute to the development of nearsightedness in childhood.

"The results of this study show a need for the health system and educational system to work together in creating strategies to prevent the development of nearsightedness among children, especially those who are at a higher risk."