Promoting outdoor activities in kindergartens combined with undisrupted school-based preventive strategies can keep myopia levels stable, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Taiwanese research.
The population-based study was conducted from 2014 to 2020 and aimed to investigate the prevalence of preschool myopia after implementing a policy promoting outdoor activities before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. The policy, the Yilan Myopia Prevention and Vision Improvement Programme (YMVIP), includes myopia prevention strategies such as increasing outdoor kindergarten activities (two hours/weekday), plus countywide school-based eye examinations, including cycloplegic autorefraction.
A total of 21,761 (90.9%) kindergarteners aged five to six years from seven school-year cohorts in Yilan County were included in the study.
The findings showed myopia prevalence continuously decreased for two years after implementing the YMVIP (2014 cohort: 15.5%; 2015 cohort: 13.5%; 2016 cohort: 8.4%). Since then, subsequent cohorts have been maximally exposed to the school-based myopia prevention strategies, and researchers found the levels remained relatively stable between 8.5% and 10.3%, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. The researchers also found that the longer the children were exposed to the preventive strategies, the less likely they were to be myopic.
The full study, Prevalence Trend of Myopia after Promoting Eyecare in Preschoolers: A Serial Survey in Taiwan Before and During the Covid-19 Pandemic, was published by Ophthalmology.