Purpose: Inaccurate accommodation during nearwork and subsequent accommodative hysteresis may influence myopia development. Myopia is highly prevalent in Singapore; an untested theory is that Chinese children are prone to these accommodation characteristics. We measured the accuracy of accommodation responses during and nearwork-induced transient myopia (NITM) after periods spent reading Chinese and English texts.
Methods: Refractions of 40 emmetropic and 43 myopic children were measured with a free-space autorefractor for four reading tasks of 10-minute durations: Chinese (SimSun, 10.5 points) and English (Times New Roman, 12 points) texts at 25 cm and 33 cm. Accuracy was obtained by subtracting accommodation response from accommodation demand. Nearwork-induced transient myopia was obtained by subtracting pretask distance refraction from posttask refraction, and regression was determined as the time for the posttask refraction to return to pretask levels.
Results: There were significant, but small, effects of text type (Chinese, 0.97 ± 0.32 diopters [D] vs. English, 1.00 ± 0.37 D; F1,1230 = 7.24, p = 0.007) and reading distance (33 cm, 1.01 ± 0.30 D vs. 25 cm, 0.97 ± 0.39 D; F1,1230 = 7.74, p = 0.005) on accommodation accuracy across all participants. Accuracy was similar for emmetropic and myopic children across all reading tasks. Neither text type nor reading distance had significant effects on NITM or its regression. Myopes had greater NITM (by 0.07 D) (F1,81 = 5.05, p = 0.03) that took longer (by 50s) (F1,81 = 31.08, p < 0.01) to dissipate.
Conclusions: Reading Chinese text caused smaller accommodative lags than reading English text, but the small differences were not clinically significant. Myopic children had significantly greater NITM and longer regression than emmetropic children for both texts. Whether differences in NITM are a cause or consequence of myopia cannot be answered from this study.