Myopia Symptoms In Children Post Pandemic…

Myopia Symptoms In Children Post-Pandemic

Have you noticed an increase in myopia symptoms in your children since the pandemic? In this article, we’ll look at what myopia is, what to look out for, and how to manage it.  

Myopia (short-sightedness) was already increasing in Australia before Covid-19, with statistics from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare1 in 2016 showing that myopia is the second most commonly reported long-term condition (20%) in young Australians (only preceded by hay fever at 24%).
Then along came the pandemic, and with it home-schooling, increased screen time, and limited outdoor recreation time. Chinese cross-sectional study of school children in Feicheng, China found that ‘a substantial myopic shift’ (−0.3 diopters) was noted after home confinement due to coronavirus disease 2019 for children aged 6 to 8 years. So it stands to reason that we can expect an increase in myopia in Australian children. While this isn’t good news, by managing myopia in kids early on, we can slow its progression.

What exactly is Myopia?

Myopia, or shortsightedness, is a common eye condition where a person can’t see distant objects clearly, but they can see close objects clearly. It happens when lights rays focus on a point in front of a retina, instead of directly on it, due to the eyeball being too long, or the cornea too curved for the length of the eyeball.

Myopia usually begins mildly in children, and progresses as they get older.

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors of myopia include:

– Family history
– Low levels of light exposure
– Low amounts of time outdoors
– Prolonged time on ‘close’ tasks, such as reading, phone or iPad use, etc

What are the symptoms of Myopia?

In some cases there may be no signs of myopia, which is why we encourage eye tests. Symptoms that do appear include:

– Difficulty seeing distant objects, like reading the board at school
– Poorer performance at school
– Sitting closer to the TV
– Tired eyes
– Squinting
– Headaches

What is the treatment and how is it managed?

We recommend making an appointment with us to discuss treatment options, such as low-dose atropine eye drops, better posture for close tasks, or Ortho-K lenses.

Long-term management strategies include:

– 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes of a ‘close’ task, take a 20-second break to look at an object 20 feet away (about 6 metres)
– Always have a good amount of light during near tasks
– Focus on good posture; try to sit upright
– Ensure a good working distance for near tasks (30-40cm)
– Increase levels of outdoor activity

To make an appointment with us to get your child’s eyes tested, call 9841 5798 or contact us via our online form.

1Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s health 2016. Australia’s health series no. 15. 199. Canberra: AIHW. Adults stats section 3.15 pg 117. Child stats section 5.4, pg 3 

2 Wang J, Li Y, Musch DC, et al. Progression of Myopia in School-Aged Children After COVID-19 Home Confinement. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2021;139(3):293–300. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.6239 


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