Effects of remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown on children’s visual health: a systematic review

María Camila Cortés-Albornoz, Sofía Ramírez-Guerrero, William Rojas-Carabali, Alejandra de-la-Torre, Claudia Talero-Gutiérrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Increased exposure to digital devices as part of online classes increases susceptibility to visual impairments, particularly among school students taught using e-learning strategies. This study aimed to identify the impact of remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown on children's visual health. DESIGN: Systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. DATA SOURCES: Scopus, PubMed and ScienceDirect databases from the year 2020 onwards. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: We included cross-sectional, case-control, cohort studies, case series and case reports, published in English, Spanish or French, that approached the effects of remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown on visual health in neurotypical children. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: We included a total of 21 articles with previous quality assessments using the Joanna Briggs checklist. Risk of bias assessment was applied using the National Institutes of Health quality assessment tool for before-and-after studies with no control group; the tool developed by Hoy et al to assess cross-sectional studies; the Murad et al tool to evaluate the methodological quality of case reports and case series; and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale for cohort studies. RESULTS: All but one study reported a deleterious impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on visual health in children. Overall, the most frequently identified ocular effects were refractive errors, accommodation disturbances and visual symptoms such as dry eye and asthenopia. CONCLUSIONS: Increased dependence on digital devices for online classes has either induced or exacerbated visual disturbances, such as rapid progression of myopia, dry eye and visual fatigue symptoms, and vergence and accommodation disturbances, in children who engaged in remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42022307107.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere062388
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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