A programme of free eye tests and eye-care seminars was launched yesterday in an attempt to raise awareness of the potential problems children face. Hong Kong children have the highest rate of myopia, or short-sightedness, in the world - double that in Canada and the United States, according to a survey conducted by Chinese University. Another study by Polytechnic University found that 88 per cent of children in the city have myopia, compared with 60 per cent in 1991. The Sight For Kids campaign is being organised by the Lions Club International Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, with the help of Vision Care Asia-Pacific. About 600 kindergarten pupils had their eyes tested yesterday at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay. Explaining why eye tests were being limited to kindergarten children, a statement released by programme organisers cited expert opinion that children's eyesight development was at its most crucial stage in the years up the age of eight. 'As early symptoms of many serious eye diseases are easily neglected, it becomes a problem that diseases are often not treated in a timely manner, resulting in other complications and even morbidity,' the statement said. It suggested that parents begin taking their children for regular checkups as soon as they can recognise words by sight at about three-years-old.