Myopia: The New Pandemic

Too Much Screen Time Has Led To Short-Sighted Epideic

Image of eye test. Credit: Delpixel/

Is your screen time harming your eyesight? At the 54th Congress of the Catalan Society of Ophthalmology held in Barcelona, experts gathered to discuss the surge in myopia cases, dubbing it the new ‘pandemic’.

During the three-day event, specialists focused on screen time and eye health in relation to the growing prevalence of myopia, a common visual impairment where near objects appear clear while distant ones blur, reports Telecinco.

The congress, which concludes this Saturday, November 25, emphasised how digital screens are exacerbating this condition, particularly among the youth.

Marta Castany, a member of the  Catalan Society of Ophthalmology (SCOFT) and an expert at Vall d’Hebron Hospital, highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to this issue, spanning all age groups.

‘There is an increase in visual habits, especially among young people, and what is interesting is to have a transversal look at the problem, from paediatrics to adults,’ she explained.

Help To Prevent Myopia

The rise in myopia is attributed to the dominance of screen exposure, often from a close distance, over viewing objects at a distance. In today’s screen-centric world, prevention plays a crucial role. The 20/20/20 rule is recommended. This method involves taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, and focus on something about 20 feet (approximately 6 meters) away.

Another guideline is the 30/40/50 rule. This involves maintaining a distance of 30 centimetres from a mobile phone, 40 from a tablet, and 50 from a computer screen. Regular eye check-ups with ophthalmologists are also vital for early detection and treatment.

Myopia In Children

For children, the risks are even higher. Alicia Serra, vice president of SCOFT and a paediatric ophthalmologist, stresses the importance of regular check-ups for early diagnosis and treatment of myopia.

She recommends stringent screen time restrictions for children, with those under three years old avoiding screens entirely. From ages three to six, screen time should be limited to one hour per day, and further reduced outside school hours for primary school children.

While mild myopia can often be managed by an optometrist, it requires an ophthalmological examination due to the risk of serious conditions like high myopia.

Castany warns, ‘Mild myopia can be regulated by an optometrist but always accompanied by an ophthalmological examination, as there is a percentage that can become serious, such as high myopia (more than six diopters), which is the typical one that is not only about correct with glasses, since it can evolve into retinal problems or glaucoma.”

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.