Association between Time Spent on Smart Devices and Change in Refractive Error: A 1-Year Prospective Observational Study among Hong Kong Children and Adolescents

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 30;17(23):8923. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17238923.


This study examined the association between smart device usage and the 1-year change in refractive error among a representative sample of Hong Kong children and adolescents aged 8-14 years. A total of 1597 participants (49.9% male, mean age 10.9, SD 2.0) who completed both baseline (2017-2018) and 1-year follow-up (2018-2019) eye examinations were included in the present study. The non-cycloplegic auto-refractive error was measured and the average spherical equivalent refraction (SER) was analyzed. The participants also self-reported their smart device usage at baseline. Multivariate regression adjusted for age, sex, baseline SER, parents' short-sightedness, BMI, time spent on moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and caregiver-reported socio-economic status showed that, compared with the reference group (<2 h per day on both smartphone and tablet usages), those who spent ≥2 h per day using a smartphone and <2 h per day using a tablet had a significantly negative shift in refractive error (1-year change in SER -0.25 vs. -0.09 D, p = 0.01) for the right eye, while the level of significance was marginal (1-year change -0.28 vs. -0.15 D, p = 0.055) for the left eye. To conclude, our data suggested spending at most 2 h per day on both smartphones and tablets.

Keywords: handheld device; myopia; prospective; smartphone; tablet; teenage.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Eye
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myopia*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Refractive Errors* / epidemiology