High Prevalence of Astigmatism in Children after School Suspension during the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Associated with Axial Elongation

Suei-Cheng Wong, Chea-Su Kee, Tsz-Wing Leung (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalChildren
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • astigmatism
  • children
  • refractive error
  • COVID-19

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