The Myopia Epidemic: How Screen Time is Affecting Our Children's Vision

This article discusses the age groups most affected, the mechanisms behind the relationship between screen time and myopia, and potential preventive measures and clinical interventions to mitigate the risk and slow down the progression of myopia.

The Myopia Epidemic: How Screen Time is Affecting Our Children's Vision
Photo by nrd / Unsplash

Myopia, or nearsightedness, has become an increasingly prevalent issue worldwide, with rates rising at an alarming pace, particularly among children and adolescents.

This condition, which causes distant objects to appear blurry, is caused by the elongation of the eyeball or excessive curvature of the cornea.

While genetics play a role in the development of myopia, the rapid increase in prevalence suggests that environmental factors, such as excessive screen time, are significant contributors to this growing epidemic.

Recent studies have consistently shown a strong association between screen time and the development and progression of myopia in children and adolescents. The proximity of digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and the prolonged duration of use are key factors in this relationship.

  1. Close Working Distances: Smartphones and tablets are often used at closer distances than other digital devices, increasing the demand for the eyes to focus on objects near them. This close working distance is a significant risk factor for myopia development.
  2. Prolonged Screen Time: Studies have found that children who spend more than 2-3 hours daily on digital screens are significantly more likely to develop myopia.
  3. Cumulative Effect: The combined use of various digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and laptops, contributes to the increased risk of myopia.

Age Groups Most Affected

Children and adolescents, particularly those aged 3 to 19 years, are the most affected by myopia due to screen time. Early exposure to screens, prolonged daily screen time, and the cumulative effect of years of screen use significantly increase the risk of developing myopia in these age groups.

  1. Preschoolers and Early Childhood: Children who are exposed to screens at a very young age, particularly during the first year of life, have a higher risk of developing myopia.
  2. School-Aged Children: Research indicates that school-aged children, especially those aged 6-7 years and 12-13 years, are particularly vulnerable to myopia due to excessive screen time.
  3. Adolescents: Adolescents who use digital screens for more than 6 hours per day have a much higher prevalence of myopia compared to those with less screen time.

Preventive Measures and Clinical Interventions

Recognizing the impact of screen time on myopia, several preventive measures and clinical interventions have been proposed to mitigate the risk and slow down the progression of myopia in children and adolescents.

  1. Encouraging Outdoor Activities: Spending more time outdoors has been shown to protect against myopia. Exposure to natural light and retinal dopamine release are believed to play a role in this protective effect.
  2. 20-20-20 Rule: Following the 20-20-20 rule, which involves taking a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes near work, can help reduce eye strain and prevent myopia progression.
  3. Clinical Interventions: Low-dose atropine eye drops, orthokeratology lenses, and multifocal contact lenses have been shown to slow down myopia progression in children.


The myopia epidemic, fueled by excessive screen time, poses a significant threat to the visual health of our children and adolescents. As digital devices become increasingly ubiquitous in our daily lives, raising awareness about the potential consequences of prolonged screen use on eye health is crucial.

By encouraging outdoor activities, promoting healthy screen habits, and implementing clinical interventions when necessary, we can mitigate the risk of myopia and protect future generations' vision.

Parents, educators, and healthcare professionals must collaborate to develop strategies to address this growing concern and ensure that children's eyes remain healthy in the digital age.