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Amanda Piña, Hanieh Mirhajianmoghadam, Lisa A Ostrin; Objective and Subjective Behavioral Measures in Myopic and Non-Myopic Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(8):1986.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected children’s lifestyle, requiring a shift to electronic device use for education and entertainment, which may ultimately impact eye growth and myopia. Our goal was to assess sleep, time outdoors, physical activity, near work, and electronic device use during the summer COVID-19 pandemic in myopic and non-myopic children. Additionally, behaviors were compared with a typical summer before the pandemic.
Healthy children (ages 8.3±2.4 years, n=53) in Houston, Texas participated. Children wore an Actiwatch for 10 days while quarantine measures were in place for objective measures of light exposure, time outdoors, activity, and sleep. Additionally, parents completed a questionnaire regarding children’s demographics, ocular history, and visual activity, including electronic device use, during the COVID-19 pandemic and also for a typical summer before COVID-19. Data were analyzed with repeated measures ANOVA for session (COVID-19 vs pre-COVID-19), day of the week (weekday vs weekend), and refractive error group (myopic vs non-myopic).
Objective measures showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, myopic children had significantly lower daily light exposure (P=.04) and less physical activity (P=.04) than non-myopic children, with no significant differences in sleep duration or time outdoors between groups (P>.05 for all). Subjective measures showed that children demonstrated increased electronic device use during COVID-19 compared to pre-COVID-19 on weekdays (7.3±0.6 vs 4.9±0.5 hours per day, respectively, P<0.001) and weekends (7.9±0.6 vs 6.1±0.5 hours per day, respectively, P<0.001). Time spent doing near work was not significantly different during COVID-19, between days of the week, or by refractive error group (P>.05 for all).
Children’s behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic varied between myopes and non-myopes. Objective measures showed that during the pandemic, myopic children exhibited lower daily light exposure and physical activity than non-myopes. Additionally, based on parents’ report, children’s electronic device use increased, and physical activity and time outdoors decreased during the pandemic. Long term follow up is needed to understand if these behavioral changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to increased myopia progression.
This is a 2021 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
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