The Pandemic has Caused a Rapid Increase in Myopia in Children
OREANDA-NEWS. The increase in cases of myopia in children in Hong Kong, scientists associate with the consequences of strict coronavirus restrictions introduced at the very beginning of the pandemic.
At this time, children began to spend more time behind the screens of gadgets and less to go out. That is, constantly focusing your gaze directly in front of you and rarely looking into the distance.
The researchers note that by September 2020, more than 180 countries have closed schools and universities and transferred all students to distance learning. This means that 80% of all schoolchildren and students in the world could feel the consequences of this measure.
Children especially suffered from this. At a time when outdoor activities were banned and social contacts were limited, children had to stay at home and bury themselves in computer screens to escape boredom. However, books, drawing and any other activities that parents could organize for children inside the house, hardly contributed to a different development of events.
In the Hong Kong Children's Eye Study, 1,793 children aged 6-8 years were tested for the quality of their eyesight. The scientists wanted to study how the lifestyle changes of Hong Kong children during the pandemic affected their vision.
About 19.5% of children (that is, about one in five) in the "pandemic" group became myopic between January and August 2020. At the same time, 37% of children (one in three) in the "dock" group heard the diagnosis of myopia during all three years of the study.
The approximate annual proportion of new cases of myopia in the "pandemic" group was 28%, 27% and 26% in children six, seven and eight years old, respectively. At the same time, the same share in the “dock” group was 17%, 16% and 15%, respectively, among children of six, seven and eight years old.
These changes coincided with a reduction in the time children spent outdoors from one hour and 15 minutes to just 24 minutes a day. At the same time, children's screen time increased from an average of two and a half hours to as much as seven hours a day.
This comparison further highlights that there is a link between the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased risk of myopia.