Research Review

Increasing Screen Time During the Coronavirus Pandemic Could Accelerate Childhood Myopia

September 1, 2020

By Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO

Medical researchers reviewed the impact of increased digital device usage arising from COVID-19 lockdown measures on myopia and made recommendations for mitigating potential detrimental effects on myopia management.

Their findings suggest that increased digital screen time, near work, and limited outdoor activities were found to be associated with the onset and progression of myopia and could potentially be aggravated during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak period.

While school closures may be short-lived, increased access, adoption and dependence on digital devices could have a long-term negative impact on childhood development, they warn. Raising awareness among parents, children, and government agencies is key to mitigating myopigenic behaviors that may become entrenched during this period.

They suggest that there is a possibility that a prolonged battle against the COVID-19 virus may lead to an increase in the incidence of myopia by shaping long-term behavioral changes conducive for the onset and progression of myopia.

The researchers conclude that while it is vital to adopt strict measures (e.g., lockdown and home quarantine) to slow or halt the spread of COVID-19, multidisciplinary collaborations and close partnerships between ministries, schools, and parents are necessary to minimize the long-term collateral impact of COVID-19-related policies on various health outcomes such as myopia, which was already a significant public health concern before the pandemic.

Abstract

Digital Screen Time During COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk for a Further Myopia Boom?

Chee Wai Wong, Andrew Tsai, Jost B. Jonas, Kyoko Ohno-Matsui, James Chen, Marcus Ang, Daniel Shu Wei Ting

Purpose: To review the impact of increased digital device usage arising from lockdown measures instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic on myopia and make recommendations for mitigating potential detrimental effects on myopia control.

Design: Perspective

Methods: Review of studies focused on digital device usage, near work, and outdoor time in relation to myopia onset and progression. Public health policies on myopia control, recommendations on screen time, and information pertaining to the impact of COVID-19 on increased digital device use were presented. Recommendations to minimize the impact of the pandemic on myopia onset and progression in children were made.

Results: Increased digital screen time, near work, and limited outdoor activities were found to be associated with the onset and progression of myopia and could potentially be aggravated during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak period. While school closures may be short-lived, increased access, adoption and dependence on digital devices could have a long-term negative impact on childhood development. Raising awareness among parents, children, and government agencies is key to mitigating myopigenic behaviors that may become entrenched during this period.

Conclusions: While it is important to adopt critical measures to slow or halt the spread of COVID-19, close collaboration between parents, schools, and ministries is necessary to assess and mitigate the long-term collateral impact of COVID-19 on myopia management policies.

Wong, Chee Wai, et al. “Digital Screen Time During COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk for a Further Myopia Boom?.” American Journal of Ophthalmology (2020).

https://www.ajo.com/article/S0002-9394(20)30392-5/fulltext

To Top
  
Subscribe Today Free...
And join more than 25,000 optometric colleagues who have made Review of Optometric Business their daily business advisor.
YOUR EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
  
Subscribe Today Free...
And join more than 25,000 optometric colleagues who have made Review of Optometric Business their daily business advisor.
YOUR EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
Subscribe Today for Free...
Join more than 56,000 of your American & international MD & OD colleagues who have made Review of Myopia Management a key educational resource in the global fight to manage the growing prevalence of myopia.

Subscribe Today for Free...
Join more than 56,000 of your American & international MD & OD colleagues who have made Review of Myopia Management a key educational resource in the global fight to manage the growing prevalence of myopia.