Digital Screen Time During COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk for a Further Myopia Boom?
The purpose of this study is 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.
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 COVID19 on increased digital device use were presented. Recommendations to minimize the impact of the pandemic on myopia onset and progression in children were made.
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 behaviours that may become entrenched during this period.
While it is important to adopt critical measures to slow or halt the spread of COVID19, close collaboration between parents, schools and ministries is necessary to assess and mitigate the long term collateral impact of COVID-19 on myopia control policies.