Analysis of Refractive Errors in a Large Italian Cohort of Pediatric Subjects Post the COVID-19 Pandemic
The study aimed to investigate the prevalence of refractive errors in a large cohort of pediatric patients after the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers examined 496 participants, mostly aged 6-11 years, using visual acuity assessments, autorefractometry, and questionnaires. They found that 25.1% of eyes had refractive errors, with 14.6% having myopia/myopic astigmatism and 10.5% having hyperopia/hyperopic astigmatism. Notably, 21% needed glasses, and 7% required a prescription change. A substantial increase in screen time was reported during the pandemic, with 87.6% of participants exposed to electronic device screens for longer durations. Factors like excessive screen time, reduced outdoor activities, and inadequate eye check-ups were identified as potential contributors to the rise in refractive errors. The study highlighted the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children's eye health, with increased screen exposure likely influencing the higher prevalence of refractive errors. The findings underscore the importance of regular eye check-ups for children and the need for public health campaigns to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with excessive screen time. Preventive measures and accessible eyecare services are essential to address this growing concern. Further research is needed to better understand and manage this issue.