Online classes? Alarming rise in squint eye, myopia cases among children

She said that increase in screen time, lifestyle changes, lack of adequate exposure to sunlight, and reduced physical activities were the reasons.

Published: 12th August 2021 03:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2021 03:38 AM   |  A+A-

eyes, eyesight, myopia, screen

For representational purposes

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Increased screen time during Covid-19 pandemic has led to an alarming rise in squint eye cases and myopia (nearsightedness) progression among children, according to Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital here.

The hospital is witnessing five times year-on-year increase in the number of acute onset comitant esotropia in the last two year of Covid-19 pandemic, said Dr Manjula Jayakumar, Senior Paediatric Ophthalmologist of the hospital.

Speaking to media persons in a virtual press meet on Wednesday, Dr Manjula said that the onset of myopia among children has been increasing by about 25 per cent, while the annual myopia progression has been abnormally high at 100 per cent.

She said that increase in screen time, lifestyle changes, lack of adequate exposure to sunlight, and reduced physical activities were the reasons. "In Chennai, we used to get one or two cases of acute onset comitant esotropia in a year before Covid. But now, there are over ten cases. The progression of myopia is alarming. We find nearly 100 per cent progression among children. The onset of myopia has also increased by 25 per cent," Dr Manjula added.

Children should maintain more than 33 cm distance from the screen while using mobile phones, laptops, or computers. They also should take at least a 10 to 20 minutes break from the screen. In that break, they should go out and get sun exposure or step out and play instead of sitting in front of a television or so, the doctor added.

If the child spends more than one hour in front of a computer screen or mobile phone without a break, the child is more at risk of developing eye-related complications than a child who spends three hours but takes frequent breaks, Dr Manjula cautioned.

The doctor said that there is a need to promote good eye health measures. According to the World Society of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus consensus, sustained near-work has more implications in myopia progression than the total number of hours.

The doctor further added that cases of acute onset comitant esotropia are not reversible and surgery has to be done to restore the binocular vision. For myopia progression, the solutions are low dose atropine eye drops, progressive addition lenses, multifocal spectacle and special contact lenses.

Severe myopia will have many complications like early onset cataracts, open angle glaucoma, retinal detachment and others, the doctor added.


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