More children are having eye issues after spending more time in front of screens during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has found.

An international team of researchers from China and the U.S. found rates of nearsightedness among young children were three times higher during the pandemic than in the past five years, WTOP reported, citing an article printed in the Journal of American Medical Association Ophthalmology.

Researchers examined more than 120,000 children between 6 and 13 years old during the pandemic. The study said the biggest increase in nearsightedness occurred in children between the ages of 6 and 8.

“Due to COVID-19 in 2020, the school-aged children were confined to their homes from January to May, and online courses were offered,” the researchers wrote, WTOP reported. “For the screened population, their daily online course hours for grades 1 and 2 is 1 hour and the time for grades 3 to 6 is 2.5 hours. Children’s indoor activities and screen time therefore increased and their outdoor activities were decreased, often to none.”

The World Health Organization estimates half of the world’s population could be nearsighted by 2050 due to the increase in online learning and people using computers and phones, the researchers wrote.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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