Digital Screen Time During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk for a Further Myopia Boom?

Am J Ophthalmol. 2021 Mar:223:333-337. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2020.07.034. Epub 2020 Jul 30.


Purpose: To review the impact of increased digital device usage arising from lockdown measures instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic on myopia and to make recommendations for mitigating potential detrimental effects on myopia control.

Design: Perspective.

Methods: We reviewed studies focused on digital device usage, near work, and outdoor time in relation to myopia onset and progression. Public health policies on myopia control, recommendations on screen time, and information pertaining to the impact of COVID-19 on increased digital device use were presented. Recommendations to minimize the impact of the pandemic on myopia onset and progression in children were made.

Results: Increased digital screen time, near work, and limited outdoor activities were found to be associated with the onset and progression of myopia, and could potentially be aggravated during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak period. While school closures may be short-lived, increased access to, adoption of, and dependence on digital devices could have a long-term negative impact on childhood development. Raising awareness among parents, children, and government agencies is key to mitigating myopigenic behaviors that may become entrenched during this period.

Conclusion: While it is important to adopt critical measures to slow or halt the spread of COVID-19, close collaboration between parents, schools, and ministries is necessary to assess and mitigate the long-term collateral impact of COVID-19 on myopia control policies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / physiology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Computing Methodologies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia / epidemiology*
  • Myopia / physiopathology
  • Myopia / prevention & control
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quarantine*
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Screen Time*
  • Social Media