Researchers Probing Rise In Childhood Nearsightedness From Pandemic-Related Screen Time Bump

Apr 7, 2021

Add "eyesight" to the list of things possibly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Jean Hausheer, a Lawton ophthalmologist and past-president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said on a Tuesday Zoom press conference hosted by the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition that a recent paper in the American Journal of Ophthalmology looked at a potential link between the increase in screen time and decrease in outdoor activity in kids due to the switch to remote learning and myopia (nearsightedness).

"The authors pointed to several research papers suggesting that these pandemic-associated trends could be linked to myopia onset and progression," Hausheer said.

Hausheer said more robust research would be needed to draw a firmer conclusion, but, "Meanwhile, we should continue to promote socially distanced outdoor activity for our children and try to limit their screen time. This means setting clear limits on television time, taking kids to the park or taking them on a bike ride until more research has been completed on this topic."

Hausheer said myopia is associated with more serious vision-related issues, including glaucoma and retina detachment. She said that reports of eye irritation, burning and itchiness have increased among adults over the course of the pandemic, possibly due to an increase of remote work.