Previous reporting shows children experienced an uptick in myopia and myopia progression associated with safety measures taken at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A study in Clinical Optometry shows that adults also experienced increased rates of myopia progression, likely due to an increase in digital media use during the pandemic.
Researchers enrolled 37 young adults (mean age, 22.5 years; 89.2% women) in a retroscopic cohort study to determine myopia progression between June 2019 and March 2020, with follow-up examinations between November 2021 and March 2022. The investigators determined the spherical equivalent refraction (SER), uncorrected distance visual acuity (UCDVA) and binocular cross cylinder for all patients. Participants reported digital use behaviors during the pandemic through a nonvalidated questionnaire.
Overall, SER progressed -0.59±0.67 D during the pandemic (-1.90±1.03 to -2.49±1.30 diopters [D]]) and UCDVA worsened from 0.62±0.38 to 1.60±0.39 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR). A total of 21 eyes (28.4%) experienced myopic progression of more than -0.75 D, while 20.3% of eyes did not experience any progression.
An analysis of the non validated questionnaire revealed that 89.2% of participants reported an increase in digital device use (7.6±3.2 hours), 86.5% spent time attending online classes (5.9±1.7 hours), and 94.6% reported spending more time at home (13.2±7.5 hours). A total of 78.4% of participants indicated that they spent more time on social media during the pandemic.
“[T]his preliminary study revealed adult myopic progression and the lifestyle changes that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the researchers. “Therefore, myopic control in adults may be an important point of concern.”
Study limitations include its retroscopic nature, small sample size, and the use of a nonvalidated questionnaire.
Kohmarn T, Srisurattanamethakul N, Watcharapalakorn A, Poyomtip T, Poolsanam C. Outbreak of COVID-19-related myopia progression in adults: a preliminary study. Clin Optom. Published online August 4, 2022. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S374155