Home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic yielded higher rates of myopic shift compared with those of pre-pandemic prospective studies, according to research published in the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

Researchers enrolled 36 children (mean age 10.79±2.83 years, 59% girls) who presented for an eye examination and received an initial diagnosis of myopia between September 2020 and May 2021 (new-onset myopia during the pandemic) in the study. The team obtained refractive data from 2018 and 2019 for all participants and performed examinations during the enrollment period. Overall, data included examinations from 3 separate visits (mean dates September 2018, October 2019, and December 2020).

Researchers determined that mean SE for both eyes decreased between the initial 2018 visit and second 2019 visit, and decreased again at the third visit (OD SE, +0.29±0.56 D, -0.12±0.70 D, and -1.33±0.73 D; OS SE +0.18±0.66 D, -0.18±0.70 D, and -1.32±0.72 D, respectively). After adjusting for differences in follow-up periods, they noted pre-pandemic myopic shifts were significantly lower than those occurring during the pandemic. 


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“It is known that time spent outdoors limits axial elongation and controls myopic shifts in refraction; thus, reductions in time spent outdoors may have contributed to accelerated progression during the pandemic,” according to the investigators. “Moreover, remote schooling from home may have increased levels of near work.”

Study limitations include a small sample size and retrospective nature.

Reference

Picotti C, Sanchez V, Irigaray LF, Iurescia A, Iribarren R. Rapid progression of myopia at onset during home confinement. J AAPOS. Published online March 18, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jaapos.2021.11.014.