Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Myopia Progression in Children.
Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune
(Deemed to be University)
Dr. D. Y. Patil Institute of Optometry & Visual Sciences
Pimpri, Pune-411 018 (Maharashtra) India.

The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Myopia Progression in Children.

The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Myopia Progression in Children.

Learn how Covid-19 has impacted children's eye health and exacerbated rise of myopia. Discover risk factors and link between screen time and myopia.

Soham Dave b.optom 3rd year
April, 11 2023

Myopia is the most common refractive error among children. The Corona virus disease 2019 pandemic has affected children's health in many ways. Policy changes due to covid-19 pandemic such as home quarantine and online schooling have been proposed as a cause for the increased risk of myopia progression. During script home for a time, children spend less time outdoors and more time indoors using electronic devices which are more important risk factors associated with myopia.


World map with mypia ratio

Myopia is a rising health concern affecting children in the modern world. Around 80 to 90% of children in East Asian countries and one-third of adults in the USA and Europe are myopic. The prevalence of myopia has increased significantly during the past decade with a higher amount in Asia than in Western countries. If the current trend continues the World Health Organisation predicts that 50% of the world population maybe myopic by 2050.

The recent covid-19, also known as Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus(SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has affected people’s lives in many ways.

Even though the pandemic did not directly affect myopia, the associated home quarantine and online schooling notably affected myopia progression. With the reduced time spent outdoors and increased time indoors on digital devices, online learning has affected myopia.

Studies have shown that the complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and behavioral factor result in the onset and progression of myopia. Evidence suggests that increased screen time, sustained near work, and decrease time same outdoors are associated with myopia development in children. Other risk factors include age, gender history of myopia in parents, and psycho-social stress.

Recent research has shown that some cases of myopia can even lid to pathological complications such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and maculopathy. According to World Health Organisation, the second largest cause of vision impairment and vision loss is an uncorrected refractive error. Therefore it is necessary to study myopia and its risk factors.

Data from India found digital device time increased from 1.9 hours to 3.9 hour per day in 10 to 16 years old children with almost 40% using a digital devices for more than 5 hour per day compared to less than 2% prior

Global increase in myopia

Link between myopia and screen time

There is a clear relationship between increased work and myopia but the impact of screen time as separate from non-screen near work is not clear. Recent research between screen time and myopia was first conducted with separate analysis on ‘smart devices’(smartphones and computers) as separate from desktop or laptop computers use, or other near-vision tasks which were not screen-based. It was found that smart device screen time alone was associated with myopia, and the relationship was stronger once combined with computer use.

Link between Covid and Myopia

The Myopic Epidemiology and Intervention Study (MEIS) undertook vision screening of over a million students aged 7 to 18 years, measuring non cycloplegic, auto reflection, and visual acuity. Children were screened in June 2019, December 2019, and June 2020 providing data for 6 months before and 6 months after the onset of covid. Myopia prevalence increased from 52.9% in June 2019 to 53.9% in December, jumping in the six months post covid, from 4.1% in June 2019 to 4.2%  in December 2019 and then to 5%in June 2020. Younger children showed double the increase in myopia prevalence than older children.

A small report from a hospital Ophthalmology Department in India found 46% of children showed at least 1D annual progression. Rapid progression was predicted most strongly by sun exposure of less than 1 hour per day, a history of rapid progression, and mobile phone use for video games but interestingly, age was not a significant factor.

The mean objective of this study was to spread awareness of myopia progression in children due to covid 19 endemic and at the same time explore the risk factor of myopia progression.

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