Winter brings concern for worsening myopia
A winter dominated by virtual schooling and indoor activities has the potential to push myopic children further toward high myopia.
For most individuals, the season will not be bad, Michael X. Repka, MD, MBA, told Healio/OSN. “For some at-risk children, though, they may be further pushed into higher myopia, where they could increase their risks to the retina, which develop when they are older,” he said.
There is much speculation about whether another season of quarantine will be worse for preventing the onset and progression of myopia, Repka said.
“If we get a sense from what goes on in East Asia, where kids do study for many hours per day, you worry that maybe this will happen in North America as well,” Repka said.
To reduce the risk for increased myopia progression during the winter, Repka suggested something educators and parents have long known, which is that outdoor time, even in cold weather, is a good thing.
“The data we have are that there is a weak effect of outdoor on slowing progression and a weak effect of preventing onset, so even when it is cold, it is probably worth saying, ‘Recess can happen outside, even in the winter, except on crazy days.’ I think educators and mothers have known that for a long time,” Repka said.
In addition to urging children to get some outdoor time each day, school days that do not demand students look at a computer screen for 6 hours every day should be considered.
To stop myopic progression, there is no single solution, but there are a few trials moving forward, including those for contact lenses and eye drops aimed at addressing the myopia epidemic.
“We’re certainly excited about the ongoing trials of drugs and contact lenses to slow progression, and these will be tools for ophthalmologists to use in the future,” Repka said.