The COVID-19 Pandemic and Nearsightedness in Children

The prevalence of myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, has been rising worldwide, particularly among children. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed additional challenges to the ocular health of children, giving rise to serious concerns regarding the progression of myopia.  Myopia can cause more serious harm than just the need for glasses or contacts.  Patients with myopia have an increased risk for retinal tears, retinal detachments, and macular degenerative diseases.  These conditions can cause irreversible vision loss.

Myopia occurs when the eyeball becomes elongated, resulting in blurred distance vision. While genetic factors play a role, environmental influences have been found to significantly contribute to its progression. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified one such environmental factor – increased screen time. Extensive reliance on remote learning and limited opportunities for outdoor activities have resulted in prolonged engagement in near work activities, putting excessive strain on the eyes and potentially aggravating myopia. Moreover, the lack of visual stimuli variety, such as looking at things at different distances and under different lighting conditions, compounds the issue.

Furthermore, the pandemic led to a reduction in outdoor physical activities and exposure to natural light. Natural light, particularly bright daylight, plays a vital role in regulating eye growth and promoting healthy vision development. The reduction in outdoor time disrupts this delicate balance and may accelerate the progression of myopia in children. Moreover, the increased use of electronic devices like mobile phones and tablets has been identified as a contributing factor to the progression of myopia in children.

Given the growing concern surrounding myopia progression, especially in the context of the pandemic, it is crucial to implement proactive measures. Here are several strategies to address this issue effectively:

  • Establish clear guidelines and routines for screen time, ensuring regular breaks and incorporating offline activities. Encourage the pursuit of hobbies, physical exercise, and outdoor play to reduce prolonged engagement in near work activities.
  • Encourage children to participate in outdoor activities such as nature walks and sports, thereby increasing exposure to natural light and providing a break from near work.
  • Educate children and parents about the importance of maintaining proper posture, taking frequent breaks, and practicing eye exercises to alleviate digital eye strain. Adjusting screen settings to reduce eye fatigue can also be beneficial.
  • Collaborate with educators to minimize screen time during remote learning. Explore alternative teaching methods, such as incorporating printed materials or audio-based learning, to reduce visual stress and mitigate the adverse effects of excessive screen time.
  • Schedule routine eye examinations for children, even in the absence of apparent vision problems, to detect myopia at an early stage and facilitate timely intervention.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the progression of nearsightedness in children is highlighted in this article. The significance of reduced outdoor time and increased screen time as substantial risk factors for myopia is underscored. Understanding these factors is vital in guiding interventions and implementing preventive strategies to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on children’s eye health. Proactive measures, such as managing screen time, prioritizing increased time spent outdoors, and regular eye examinations, play a critical role in addressing the growing prevalence of myopia. Further research is needed to explore the long-term implications and develop targeted interventions that effectively address the rising prevalence of myopia in children.