Has lockdown damaged children’s eyesight?

26 May 2021
Acuity digital

Emma Bennett explores the link between a rise in screen time during the pandemic and increasing levels of myopia in children. 

As a year of lockdowns forced a generation of schoolchildren to spend less time outdoors and more time in front of a screen, concern about the impact on their eyesight has grown. A study of more than 120,000 schoolchildren in China (Wang et al, 2021) found that children, aged six to eight, in lockdown for the first six months of 2020 were more myopic than the classes of previous years. The authors said that home confinement during the pandemic appeared to be associated with “a significant myopic shift” (-0.3 dioptre).

Speaking in The Guardian, Dr Jiaxing Wang at Emory University in Atlanta, who led the research, said: “It is definitely clinically significant, especially as there’s evidence that a small decrease of dioptre [sic] may lead to a significant change in [the ability to distinguish shapes and the details of objects], especially for young kids” (Geddes and Marsh, 2021).

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