Rising Myopia Rates in Indian Children Linked to Increased Screen Time, Experts Warn

India, boasting the world’s largest youth population, faces a concerning trend: a surge in myopia cases among children. In this era of digitalization, where screen time has become an integral part of daily life, especially for youngsters, the implications on eye health are profound.

Dr. Rajesh Prabhu highlighted the gravity of the situation: “Myopia, once considered a minor issue, has evolved into a global health crisis. Prolonged use of digital devices and reduced outdoor activities significantly contribute to the rise in myopia cases worldwide.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem, with online schooling leading to increased smartphone usage among children. This heightened exposure to screens has led to a sharp increase in myopia cases globally.

Dr. Neepa Thacker Dave, a specialist in pediatric ophthalmology, underscored the severity of the issue: “Myopia has become an epidemic, with projections suggesting that 50% of children will be affected by 2050. Early onset, rapid progression, and higher degrees of myopia are becoming increasingly common, raising concerns about long-term vision health.”

One of the major culprits identified is the blue light emitted by digital screens. Unlike natural sunlight, the blue light from devices poses a significant risk to eye health, leading to conditions like eye strain and macular degeneration. Studies have shown that myopic children absorb more blue light than their non-myopic peers, exacerbating the problem.

Dr. Pradeep Sharma, an expert in pediatric ophthalmology, stressed the importance of early intervention: “Regular eye check-ups and wearing fully-corrected prescription glasses are essential in managing myopia in children. Medical treatments such as low-dose atropine eyedrops and specialized spectacles can help retard the progression of myopia.”

Furthermore, lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in mitigating myopia’s impact. Encouraging outdoor activities and limiting screen time are practical measures to combat the rise in myopia cases. Dr. Sowmya R emphasized the importance of outdoor play: “Increased exposure to sunlight and reduced screen time can help slow down the progression of myopia in children.”

Recent studies have shed light on the alarming prevalence of myopia in India. A study conducted by AIIMS revealed that over 13% of school-going children in India have developed myopia, a figure that has doubled in the last decade due to excessive gadget usage.

Dr. Fijo Kuriakose, an ophthalmologist, urged for proactive measures to address the growing myopia crisis: “Raising awareness about myopia prevention, promoting regular eye check-ups, and fostering healthy eye habits from a young age are vital steps in safeguarding vision health.”

In conclusion, early detection, lifestyle modifications, and public awareness campaigns are crucial in addressing the rising tide of myopia among Indian children. By prioritizing eye health and advocating for responsible screen usage, we can ensure a brighter future for generations to come.

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