Tips for Myopia and Digital Eye Strain in Children


Find out why myopia, dry eye, and digital eye strain are affecting more and more people, including kids, and how to prevent issues.

Child looking at tablet

by Seamus Flynn

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic many of us have been studying and working from home and in most cases spending much more time using laptops and other digital devices.

Even if we were one of the lucky ones to continue working throughout the lockdown, it resulted in most of us spending more time using digital screens as we have been couped up indoors much more than we would otherwise be.

This has caused a different type of pandemic, a worldwide increase in the amount of people becoming short-sighted or myopic.

It is now increasing at an alarming rate of over one million cases a week globally(1)

A recent study(2) of over 120,000 children showed that the level of myopia increased by up to three times the Pre-Covid level which is being directly attributed to the amount of time spent indoors and using handheld digital devices.

This is of particular concern as children are now being diagnosed as myopic much earlier and it has been shown that the earlier myopia develops the more it will progress and the more likely the myopia will result in irreversible vision loss or blindness.

Some parts of the world are increasing even faster with a staggering 96.5% of 19 year old men in Seoul, South Korea now short-sighted according to a recent study.


One of the biggest causes, especially in children, is the over usage of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets which are being held at close distances to the eyes. 

Using these devices for extended periods of time causes a strain on the visual system. The eyes and associated muscles get used to focusing at a close distance and while everything appears clear at this distance the long-distance vision can deteriorate.

The longer the length of time doing close concentrated work, the more of a problem this becomes. 

In order to tackle this problem children should be encouraged to spend time playing outdoors as much as possible and to get their eyes used to focusing in the far distance.

A recent study has shown that exposure to sunlight reduces the progression of myopia as well as eating leafy dark green vegetables which increases the blood levels of lutein.


The pandemic has also caused a big increase in the number of cases of dry eye.

The reason for this is that we don’t blink as much when we are doing close concentrated work such as staring at screens and handheld digital devices.

Blinking restores our tear film and prevents our eyes from drying out so when we blink less due to looking at screens it means that the tear film is being inadequately replenished and results in dry eye.

Mask-related dry eye has also sky-rocketed in the last year. This is caused when you breathe out whilst wearing a mask and the air-flow escapes through the top of the mask and across the surface of your eye. This dries out the ocular surface resulting in the eyes feeling dry and irritated.


Digital eye strain has also increased greatly in the last year. This is caused when we are exposed to blue light from digital screens for two or more hours a day.

Much more people have been exposed to this because of having to work and study from home. The blue light from digital devices are high energy wavelengths and cause stress on the visual system resulting in symptoms of eyestrain, tired eyes, headaches and difficulty sleeping. Reducing your exposure to digital screens or wearing anti-blue light glasses helps to reduce these symptoms.





Seamus Flynn

Seamus is a pharmacist and an optometrist and enjoys writing about pharmaceutical and eyecare topics. He is also the owner of an eyewear brand called Sapphire Eyewear and is dedicated to donating glasses to people in need of eyewear in developing countries.

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2 thoughts on “Tips for Myopia and Digital Eye Strain in Children”

  1. Hi, just wanted to point out that the Seoul study was published in 2012, so while they have a large amount of myopia, can’t say it’s related to Covid. Also, the other study of the 200000 kids in China was interesting too. I’d like to see if it could be repeated. The testers had to change the testing method during Covid by standing 1.8 m away (because of Covid restrictions) and holding the device in front of them to bring it to the requisite 1 m distance for the test. I measured my arms and they aren’t 0.8 m long. Totally possible they did make sure that testers arms were long enough, but it will be interesting to see if the numbers remain elevated when they do their first study post-Covid restrictions.


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