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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
January 26, 2021
2 min read

COVID-19 lockdowns may negatively affect myopia progression in young children

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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There may be an association between home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a myopic shift in children aged 6 to 8 years in China, according to a study.

“The prevalence of myopia increased 1.4 to 3 times in 2020 compared with the previous 5 years as a result of home confinement due to COVID‐19. The refractive status of younger children (6 to 8 years of age) may be more sensitive to environmental changes than older children,” Xuehan Qian, MD, PhD, co-author of the prospective cross-sectional study, told Healio/OSN.

School-based photoscreenings were used to measure spherical equivalent refraction in 123,535 children aged 6 to 13 years from 10 elementary schools in Feicheng, China, from 2015 to 2020. The analysis included data from 194,904 test results from 389,808 eyes.

Xuehan Qian

A substantial myopic shift occurred in the 2020 photoscreenings compared with the previous years for children aged 6, 7 and 8 years, with decreases in spherical equivalent refraction of –0.32 D, –0.28 D and –0.29 D, respectively. In the 2020 screenings, myopia prevalence was higher than the highest prevalence in previous years in children aged 6 years, at 21.5% vs. 5.7%; children aged 7 years, at 26.2% vs. 16.2%; and children aged 8 years, at 37.2% vs. 27.7%.

In children aged 9 to 13 years, the differences in spherical equivalent refraction and prevalence of myopia were minimal.

Screenings took place annually in September from 2015 to 2019. After schools reopened in June 2020, after a 5-month closure because of the pandemic, screenings were conducted again, with data analysis occurring in July 2020.