It is widely agreed that changing environmental influences have been driving the recent myopia boom. Over the past several years, digital screen time has emerged as a new environmental influence of interest. As smartphones, tablets, and computers have become pervasive in homes and schools, concerns have been raised about the impact of increased screen time on the eye.1
An association between digital device use and myopia has been reported in studies conducted in the Netherlands,2 Spain,3 and Taiwan.4 A study that used smartphone data usage as a surrogate for digital screen time also demonstrated an association with myopia.5 Yet other research has not found evidence for such an association6 or produced inconsistent results.7,8 A recent meta-analysis found no clear association between digital screen time and the prevalence or incidence of myopia.1
Thus, the available evidence implicating digital devices remains inconsistent, and more research using objective measures is clearly needed.1,9,10 The rapid increase in myopia prevalence in Taiwan11 and Singapore12 occurred long before the widespread use of digital screens. At present, there is no evidence that digital screen use poses a greater risk than an equivalent amount of time spent reading.9
Until more research is conducted, the potential impact of digital device use should not be overstated at the expense of other important factors.9 Efforts should be made to communicate the importance of adequate outdoor time and to teach children how to develop healthy relationships with digital devices.
Technology is unlikely to become less prevalent in our day to day lives and we need to learn how to harness its capabilities to help others. At Dopavision, we believe technology will be key to the future of healthcare. We have developed a digital approach to myopia control with the aim of reaching as many children with progressive myopia as possible. We are getting ready to take the next step toward this goal with the preparation of our clinical trial.
1 Lanca, C., & Saw, s.M. (2020). The association between digital screen time and myopia: A systematic review. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 40(2),216-229.
2 Enthoven, C. A., Tideman, J. W. L., Polling, J. R., Yang-Huang, J., Raat, H., & Klaver, C.C. (2020). The impact of computer use on myopia development in childhood: The Generation R study. Preventive medicine, 132,105988.
3 Alvarez-Peregrina, C., Sánchez-Tena, M. Á., Martinez-Perez, C., & Villa-Collar, C. (2020). The relationship between screen and outdoor time with rates of myopia in Spanish children. Frontiers in Public Health, 8,596.
4 Tsai, T. H., Liu, Y. L., Ma, I. H., Su, C.C., Lin, C. W., Lin, L. L. K., … & Wang, I.J. (2021). Evolution of the prevalence of myopia among Taiwanese schoolchildren: a review of survey data from 1983 through 2017. Ophthalmology, 128(2), 290-301.
5 McCrann, S., Loughman, J., Butler, J. S., Paudel, N., & Flitcroft, D. I. (2021). Smartphone use as a possible risk factor for myopia. Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 104(1),35-41.
6 Lanca, C., Yam, J.C., Jiang, W. J., Tham, Y.C., Hassan Emamian, M., Tan, C. S., … & Asian Eye Epidemiology Consortium (AEEC). (2021). Near work, screen time, outdoor time and myopia in schoolchildren in the Sunflower Myopia AEEC Consortium. Acta ophthalmologica.
7 Mutti, D. O., Mitchell, G. L., Moeschberger, M. L., Jones, L. A., & Zadnik, K. (2002). Parental myopia, near work, school achievement, and children’s refractive error. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 43(12), 3633-3640.
8 Jones, L. A., Sinnott, L. T., Mutti, D. O., Mitchell, G. L., Moeschberger, M. L., & Zadnik, K. (2007). Parental history of myopia, sports and outdoor activities, and future myopia. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 48(8),3524-3532.
9 Morgan, I. G., Wu, P.C., Ostrin, L. A., Tideman, J. W. L., Yam, J.C., Lan, W., … & Guggenheim, J. A. (2021). IMI risk factors for myopia. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science, 62(5), 3-3.
10 Wong, C. W., Tsai, A., Jonas, J.B., Ohno-Matsui, K., Chen, J., Ang, M., & Ting, D. S. W. (2021). Digital screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic: risk for a further myopia boom?. American journal of ophthalmology, 223,333-337.
11 Lin, L. L. K., Shih, Y. F., Hsiao, C. K., & Chen, C. J. (2004). Prevalence of Myopia in Taiwanese Schoolchildren: 1983 to 2000. Ann Acad Med Singapore, 33, 27-33.
12 Sensaki, S., Sabanayagam, C., Verkicharla, P. K., Awodele, A., Tan, K. H., Chia, A., & Saw, S.M. (2017). An ecologic study of trends in the prevalence of myopia in Chinese adults in Singapore born from the 1920s to 1980s. Ann Acad Med Singapore, 46(6), 229-36.