During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Government enforced a “school from home” policy between February and September 2020. This cross-sectional epidemiological study was conducted to investigate the prevalence of astigmatism and visual habits after the home confinement period. Vision screenings were conducted at three local government-funded primary schools in Hong Kong from October 2020 to December 2020. A total of 418 ethnically Chinese primary school children completed the eye examination and returned questionnaires concerning demographic information and visual habits. It was found that 46.5% (95% CI, 41.7–61.4%) of the children aged 8 to 11 years had astigmatism ≥ 0.75 D, which was predominately With-The-Rule astigmatism. The prevalence of astigmatism reported in these children is generally higher than that of studies conducted before COVID. Compared to their non-astigmatic peers, astigmatic children had a longer axial length (p < 0.001) and engaged in fewer outdoor activities (p = 0.04). Multiple linear regression analyses also revealed significant relationships between axial length and both cylindrical error and J0 astigmatism. Due to the high astigmatism prevalence, there is a pressing need for further studies on the long-term impact of the pandemic on children’s vision.
- refractive error