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Did Children’s Eyes Change During the Pandemic?

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Myopia or nearsightedness is the inability to see things clearly in the distance. It is the most common prescription among children and young adults. The question is, did the number of myopic children increase over the course of the pandemic?

What does the data tell us?

A study done by the JAMA network looked at whether home confinement in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic increased the prevalence of myopia in school aged children. The study looked at over 123,000 children in China and found that the prevalence of myopia increased by 1.4 to 3 times in children aged 6 to 8 years compared with the previous 5 years.

Why did this occur?

Researchers think it is a combination of a few things. During the 2019 lockdown in China, and around the world for that matter, children’s indoor activities and screen time increased and their outdoor activities decreased, often to zero. Lessened outdoor activities are known to lead to a higher incidence of myopia in school aged children.

What can you do to help reverse this trend?

Taking breaks from intense near work such as screen time and reading is important. Every 20 mins take a break, look at something in the distance for at least 20 seconds – longer is better!

Also, spending more time outdoors has been proven to reduce the chances your child will become myopic and if they are myopic already it can slow down how quickly their eyes are changing.

Our Myopia Management Clinic

If you child is myopic already or you are concerned that they might be, we encourage you to bring your child in for an eye exam. Our team now offers novel treatments to help slow down your child’s prescription change often times by 50% or more. Book an eye exam today or call us to learn more.

Written by Dr. Tina Goodhew

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