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The impact of Covid on Myopia

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

High temperature, cough, loss of smell or taste; there has been no lack of publicity about potential coronavirus symptoms. As time has gone on, reports have also emerged about the impact of long covid; leaving coronavirus sufferers feeling debilitated and with a range of ongoing symptoms for an extended period of time.

Sadly, such is its reach that Covid has been shown not only to impact those who catch the virus but also other individuals who may have been caught up in the fallout from the disease. Some may have had to face a delay in planned treatment, potentially putting their lives at risk. Others may have seen their mental health deteriorate, perhaps as a result of enforced isolation or financial concerns.

Now a further concern is emerging; an increase in childhood myopia brought on by a combination of spending more time indoors and increased screen time as a result of covid restrictions. In January 2021 an ongoing study into childhood myopia [1] concluded that whilst the prevalence of myopia in 9-13 year olds in 2020 was in line with that seen in the previous five years, the rate seen in 6-8 year olds was significantly higher than that seen in previous years.

Two other studies reporting in 2021, one from Hong Kong [2], and one from Turkey [3] also revealed the prevalence of ‘quarantine myopia’ in children. That’s a concern, particularly when a World Health Organisation pre-pandemic study from 2019 revealed that worldwide

“At least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed.” [4]

And that billion includes 123.7 million with refractive problems such as myopia, alongside more than sixty five million with cataracts and nearly seven million with glaucoma. How those numbers will change once the full post-covid pattern emerges is yet to be seen; but if the childhood surveys are anything to go by it won’t be good news.

If you're a parent whose child has been diagnosed with myopia, or if they are struggling with their distance vision, we hope you found MyopiaFocus helpful. Please join our community or sign our petition to get the government and NHS to recognise myopia as an ocular disease/serious ocular condition and fund myopia management for children.

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A really interesting article. It is though a struggle to get my kids outdoors. We let them have a computer and opened up the floodgates. Oh dear!

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