Abstract
PERCEPTION OF AMBLYOPIA AMONG THE PARENTS DURING LOCKDOWN IN PANDEMIC SITUATION: AN OVERVIEW

Mugdha Nandedkar*, Baghyashri Randhwan, Pallavi Harale and Rajesh Oswal

ABSTRACT

On December 30th, 2019, Dr Wenliang Li alerted the world about the possibility of a SARS-like virus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Several months later, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a ―Pandemic‖ outbreak. As of April 10th, 2020, there were more than 1.2 million infected patients worldwide, with close to 100,000 deaths. Research has focused mainly on the epidemiology, risks modelling, pathophysiology and clinical features of SARS-CoV-2, but the impact of increased digital screen time secondary to the lockdown and quarantine measures in many cities worldwide on amblyopia has largely been unnoticed. The rise in usage of digital technology and online e-learning during this pandemic outbreak may jeopardize the effectiveness of these policies. In this perspective, we discuss the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures on the learning environment of children and adolescents, review the evidence on digital screen time and its impact on amblyopia, and make recommendations to reduce the detrimental effects on amblyopia during and beyond this outbreak. Eye diseases seldomly carry a fatal outcome; however, they do represent high morbidity. Children's lives revolve around playing outdoors, reading, indoor games, watching television but the Corona virus disease 19 outbreak has left them with limited options. Increased screen-time, prolonged near work, reduced outdoor activities are some of the important risk factors for amblyopia according to various studies. Countries like China, where schools have replaced books with tablets and computers, evidently have a higher incidence of amblyopia. Likewise, Indian schools have also began to gradually adopt digital teaching methods. But the outbreak of COVID-19 has made it mandatory for all classes to be held online. In addition to classes being held online, class notes are circulated through WhatsApp groups or email. Hence, a child on an average spends about 4-6 hours on these devices for academic purpose in addition to playing on the hand-held devices. With the ―lockdown‖ issued by the Government of India, people are forced to stay indoors. Children are encouraged to stay indoors due to the fear of contracting the COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, with parents having to work from home, they are forced to hand these devices to even infants to keep them engaged.

Keywords: Amblyopia, COVID-19, Digital technology, Lockdown, Digital screen time.


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