Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, known for her role in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” recently shared her concerns about her son Rocky’s struggle to focus during online learning sessions. Initially, she attributed it to screen fatigue, but he was actually diagnosed with myopia. This condition, which causes difficulty in focusing on distant objects, is becoming more prevalent due to the increased screen time we spend for work, school, entertainment, socialization, and exercise. Sarah explained, “I really chalked it up to screen fatigue because my kids didn’t have a lot of access to devices (before Covid). All of a sudden they’re thrown into this world where they’re on Zoom for school and the only way they can connect with their friends afterwards is to continue on these devices. It was not something my kids were used to.” According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), myopia affected nearly two billion people in 2010, accounting for one-quarter of the global population. The prevalence is expected to reach 3.3 billion people by 2030.


Myopia is a common problem in both adults and children. Dr Swapnali Sabhapandit, director and senior surgeon at the Institute of Ophthalmic Sciences, AIG Hospitals, explains that increased indoor time with more near-focused work, such as using electronic screens, playing video games, or extensive reading, can lead to the onset and increase of myopia in children. The highest chance of developing myopia is between the ages of 5 and 10. Less exposure to outdoor light further enhances this risk. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown periods, the incidence of myopia among children has reached epidemic proportions. Dr Swapnali adds, “Being confined indoors and lacking exposure to sunlight has adversely affected the pediatric population all over the world with regard to myopia onset and progression.”


Special contact lenses and glasses can help slow down the progression of myopia. However, it is important to supervise children’s use of contact lenses to prevent infection and vision loss. Low-dose atropine eye drops have also been shown to be effective in preventing myopia from worsening in children aged 5 to 18.

Prevention is key. While myopia can be inherited, limiting screen time and encouraging children to spend more time outdoors can help prevent its development.


Spending a lot of time focusing on objects that are only a foot away can worsen myopia. Dr Swapnali advises, “Encourage children to hold objects at least a foot away from their faces and to look away from the screen once every 20 minutes for a few seconds to break the habit. It’s important to give kids at least an hour of outdoor sunlight exposure each day.”

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