COVID-19 has put the entire world into longer lockdowns than initially anticipated. And it has apparently wreaked havoc on a lot of children, according to a new study. 

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, reported that an eye condition known as myopia was on the rise in young kids in Hong Kong during the first eight months of last year, reports IFLScience. The study covered a period when COVID-19 lockdowns were the strictest. 

Myopia is a common eye condition that means a patient can't see objects clearly from far away. It is more colloquially known as nearsightedness, and scientists are directly blaming increased screen time during COVID-19 lockdowns. 

Smartphone kid
(Photo : LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A boy wearing a jersey of England's forward Harry Kane uses a smartphone before the start of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021.

Since children can't go out, they turned to electronics such as smartphones, TVs, or computers for both their entertainment and schooling. And prolonged staring at a screen is a major cause of myopia. A total of 709 children were observed in the study, with 19.5 percent of them developing myopia throughout the COVID lockdown in Hong Kong. 

Experts have actually warned against this early this year. According to a report by the BBC, an eye health charity called Fight for Sight warned about the risks of developing poor eyesight due to increased screen time from COVID-19 lockdowns. Fight for Sight conducted a survey of 2,000 people, with 38 percent of which reporting increased screen times and worsening eyesight. 

Since children still can't be given COVID-19 vaccines yet, the safest thing for them is to stay at home. And for parents out there, you'll have to limit your kids' screen times as much as you can early. 

Read also: [UPDATE] COVID-19: Father Blames Lockdown After 12-Year-Old Son Committed Suicide at Home

COVID-19 Lockdowns & Increased Screen Times 

It's pretty easy to see why any COVID lockdown would cause people's screen times to go up. Adults can't go out to see a movie, work out at the gym, eat at a restaurant, or work at the office. Children can't play outside with their friends or go to school for fear of contracting the virus. 

If you're in a place where a COVID-19 lockdown is in effect, you technically have no choice but to turn to your devices. Smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, and game consoles are seeing way more useful than normal. But adults can more or less cope better physically and mentally compared to kids, for obvious reasons. 

Limit Your Kids' Screen Times, Even During the Pandemic 

Every parent out there right now would agree that it can feel almost impossible to get their kids off their phones, tablets, or the TV. But if you're a parent yourself, you'll have to do everything you can, especially if you have very young children aged 3 or younger. 

A Canadian study found out that high levels of screen time can cause developmental delays in young kids. Most scientists recommend that the effects are even more potent if the children's screen usage goes beyond seven hours a week. 

COVID lockdowns can be tough. But a kid growing up with poor eyesight is going to find it even tougher to cope, and that's a fact. 

Related: COVID-19: University of Pittsburgh Researchers Develop Single-Domain Antibody For SARS-COV-2 Variants

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Written by RJ Pierce 

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