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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 68  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 1496

Will COVID-19 pandemic-associated lockdown increase myopia in Indian children?


1 Department of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus, Narayana Nethralaya, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Uvea and Ocular Immunology, Narayana Nethralaya, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Cornea and Refractive Surgery, Narayana Nethralaya, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication25-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Srinivasan Sanjay
Department of Uveitis and Ocular immunology, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1443_20

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How to cite this article:
Sumitha M, Sanjay S, Kemmanu V, Bhanumathi MR, Shetty R. Will COVID-19 pandemic-associated lockdown increase myopia in Indian children?. Indian J Ophthalmol 2020;68:1496

How to cite this URL:
Sumitha M, Sanjay S, Kemmanu V, Bhanumathi MR, Shetty R. Will COVID-19 pandemic-associated lockdown increase myopia in Indian children?. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 14];68:1496. Available from: http://www.ijo.in/text.asp?2020/68/7/1496/287485



Dear Editor:

Children's lives revolve around playing outdoors, reading, indoor games, watching television but the Corona virus disease 19 outbreak has left them with limited options. Like most other Asian countries, India has also seen a gradual increase in the incidence and prevalence of myopia.[1] Increased screen-time, prolonged near work, reduced outdoor activities are some of the important risk factors for myopia according to various studies.[2],[3] Countries like China, where schools have replaced books with tablets and computers, evidently have a higher incidence of myopia.[4]

Likewise, Indian schools have also began to gradually adopt digital teaching methods.[5] But the outbreak of COVID-19 has made it mandatory for all classes to be held online. In addition to classes being held online, class notes are circulated through WhatsApp™ groups or email. Hence, a child on an average spends about 4-6 hours on these devices for academic purpose in addition to playing on the hand-held devices.

With the “lockdown” issued by the Government of India, people are forced to stay indoors. Children are encouraged to stay indoors due to the fear of contracting the COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, with parents having to work from home, they are forced to hand these devices to even infants to keep them engaged.

Free games, online storybooks, online courses, online streaming services like Netflix™ and Amazon™ video, re-telecast of popular TV shows like Mahabharat, Ramayana are some of the alluring offers made to the citizens of India to ensure that they confine themselves to their homes.

Will this lead to a forced adaptation of digital teaching over traditional teaching methods in future?

In our pediatric ophthalmic outpatient department, we had (n = 3540) visits in March and April 2019 with 80% (n = 2832) being refractive errors, and approximately 80% (n = 2265) were myopia and myopic astigmatism. This year, this phase had a lockdown and we had 917 visits in March and April 2020 with 78% (n = 733) being refractive errors, and approximately 79% (n = 578) were myopia and myopic astigmatism.

Can this change in trend of activities of children lead to an increased incidence of myopia and its progression in children with pre-existing myopia? We have to ponder about these questions and they are unlikely to be answered soon.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Saxena R, Vashist P, Menon V. Is myopia a public health problem in India? Indian J Community Med 2013;38:83-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
2.
Saxena R, Vashist P, Tandon R, Pandey RM, Bhardawaj A, Gupta V, et al. Incidence and progression of myopia and associated factors in urban school children in Delhi: The North India Myopia Study (NIM Study). PLoS One 2017;12:e0189774.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Sherwin JC, Reacher MH, Keogh RH, Khawaja AP, Mackey DA, Foster PJ. The association between time spent outdoors and myopia in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ophthalmology 2012;119:2141-51.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Chen M, Wu A, Zhang L, Wang W, Chen X, Yu X, et al. The increasing prevalence of myopia and high myopia among high school students in Fenghua city, eastern China: A 15-year population-based survey. BMC Ophthalmol 2018;18:159.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Jha N, Shenoy V. Digitization of Indian education process: A hope or hype. IOSR JBM 2016;18:131-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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