A recent study suggests that pandemic lockdown may have increased myopia, or nearsightedness, in school-aged children.
What Is Myopia?
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness or shortsightedness, can run in families. Still, environmental factors, such as spending too much time indoors, can contribute to children becoming nearsighted.
The 2020 lockdown closed schools across the country and confined millions of children to their homes. While quarantine was essential to protect against the COVID-19 virus, too much time indoors may have negatively impacted children's vision health.
Lockdown Affected Children Ages Six to Eight the Most
Less time outdoors is a significant risk factor for myopia. According to research published in JAMA Opthalmology, COVID quarantine may have increased myopia in children ages 6 to 13 in China, particularly children between ages 6 and 8. In addition, higher levels of screen time due to online classes and more time spent on electronic devices can directly affect children's vision according to researchers.
Experts theorize that less time outdoors affects young children more significantly because their eyes are in an earlier stage of development, and myopia may be easier to control in younger children.
Send Children Outside and Limit Screen Time
Parents have an instrumental role in protecting their children's vision. Encourage your child to play outside every day and limit screen time, even in colder months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months and only educational media for young children.
New research from The Sleep Foundation also suggests blue light from electronic devices can impair children's sleep. Artificial light disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle by fooling the brain into not producing melatonin before bed.
Schedule an Eye Exam Before the End of the Year
It's hard to believe that we're approaching the end of the year. Have you scheduled eye exams for your family? A comprehensive eye exam is one of the best decisions you can make for your eye health, and it only takes about an hour. Your eye doctor can assess your visual acuity and screen you for common eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Most vision plans include one comprehensive eye exam per year for covered individuals, so don't let time get away from you. Call today to make appointments for the whole family.
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