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RESEARCH STUDY

RESEARCH

Objective and Subjective Behavioral Measures in Myopic and Non-Myopic Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

AUTHOR:

Hanieh Mirhajianmoghadam; Amanda Piña; Lisa A. Ostrin

SPONSOR/INSTITUTION:

National Eye Institute

YEAR PUBLISHED:

2021

PUBLICATION:

Translational Vision Science & Technology

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic required a shift to electronic devices for education and entertainment, with children more confined to home, which may affect eye growth and myopia. 

  • The purpose of this study was to assess behaviors during COVID-19 in myopic and non-myopic children.

  • Parents completed a questionnaire for their children (ages 8.3 ± 2.4 years, n = 53) regarding visual activity in summer 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during school time and the summer before COVID-19. 

  • Children also wore an Actiwatch for 10 days in summer 2020 for objective measures of light exposure, activity, and sleep. 

  • Data were analyzed with repeated-measures analysis of variance.

  •  Subjective measures showed that during COVID-19, children exhibited increased electronic device use and decreased activity and time outdoors (P < 0.05 for all), while time spent doing near work was not different than during a typical school or summer session before COVID-19 (P > 0.05). 

  • Objective measures during COVID-19 showed that myopic children exhibited lower daily light exposure (P = 0.04) and less activity (P = 0.04) than non-myopic children.

  • Children demonstrated increased electronic device use and decreased activity and time outdoors during COVID-19, with myopic children exhibiting lower light exposure and activity than non-myopes. 

  • Long-term follow-up is needed to understand if these behavioral changes ultimately contribute to myopia progression.

  • Children's behaviors changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have implications in eye growth and myopia.