COVID-19 pandemic linked to increased nearsightedness in kids

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TAMPA (NBC) – More children may have developed nearsightedness as an unexpected side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study suggests.

An analysis of eye test data from nearly 2,000 Hong Kong school-age children revealed that the rate of nearsightedness that developed during the pandemic more than doubled what was found in a pre-pandemic study of children the same age, according to the report in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

About 700 had joined the study at the beginning of the pandemic while the rest were part of an ongoing study.

Nearly a fifth of the COVID-19 group developed nearsightedness or myopia compared to 37-percent of the children in the pre-pandemic group.

The study authors say the increase among the pandemic group coincided with less time spent outdoors and an increase in screen time.

The scientists say this was an observational study and can’t establish cause.

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