There has been a 50 per cent surge in myopia -- near-sightedness -- among children aged 5-16 years. City ophthalmologists have attributed the rise in the number of cases to heavy screen time during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now that schools have resumed physical attendance, teachers are realising that children are unable to see the blackboard clearly.
The Free Press Journal spoke to several doctors who underlined the reason behind the worrying condition. They are examining two to three children every day who complain about blurred vision.
While the trend of being glued to electronic devices has been around for some time now, the pandemic made the situation worse among children.
A study conducted by Sankara Eye Clinic in Bangalore has also linked the problem to vitamin D3 deficiency.
An estimated 5.3 per cent Indian children suffer from myopia, while the incidence rate in adults is 35.6 per cent. It is one of the most common causes of decreased vision which starts manifesting in childhood and can progress over the years.
Therefore, it’s imperative to identify modifiable factors in the development and progression of myopia, so that it can be minimised during childhood.
Dr Nita Shah, the head of clinical services in Chembur, said they witnessed 830 cases in children in 2019, which later increased to 1,340 in 2021, which means a 60 per cent surge.
She attributed the rise to gadget usage, decrease in outdoor activities and nutritional factors.
Very high power (high myopia) usually occurs due to an elongation in the axial length of the eyeball. It is usually an inherited genetic condition, but can also occur due to overuse of gadgets. Neglect and irregular eye check-ups, especially in children with a refractive power, can lead to this.
Not using glasses regularly can also cause the power to jump up.
A city ophthalmologist said, “The anatomy of our eyes is such that it prevents us from performing minute, detailed tasks such as squinting to look at a screen for over 40-50 minutes. This results in overexertion and focusing fatigue.”