COVID-19 impacted so many and continues to in ways that we are only starting to realize. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, ophthalmologists around the United States of America are noticing an increase in children’s vision problems.
A recent study found that 60 percent of parents reported their children spent no more than three hours on devices in pre-pandemic times. In August 2020, 70 percent of parents estimated their kids spent at least four hours with screens, with the most time spent interacting with games and entertainment platforms such as Youtube and Netflix. Eyepic Eyecare has provided several suggestions for protecting children’s eyes from digital eye strain, which can be found here.
A combination of increased time spent in front of screens and the absence of resources and testing that schools oftentimes provide are likely culprits of the increase in vision problems that we see today in children.
“School provides children with much more than the obvious tools for learning and social and emotional development,” Dr. Hela Barhoush, a pediatrician at One Medical in New York City said. “Additionally, screening tests such as vision testing and scoliosis exams are typically performed on an annual basis by school nurses,” Barhoush added.
As children are getting in for their annual eye examination, there have been common eye problems reported that should be noted.
Reports suggest a possible increase in new cases of nearsightedness, or myopia. Myopia is a refractive condition where the light is focused in front of the retina because the eye is “too long” hence “long vision” is blurry, in short, the patient is nearsighted. Children who were previously nearsighted are now experiencing worsening vision at an unexpected and accelerated rate. Some studies suggest that children who spend long hours in work that requires reading or writing may be more prone to myopia. One factor that is considered to lower the risk of myopia, outside time, was limited by keeping kids indoors during the lockdowns.
Symptoms of myopia can include squinting, rubbing eyes frequently and complaining of blurry vision. Children may not verbalize symptoms, as it is common for kids to “normalize” their vision problems and adapt. It is up to you to keep a watchful eye out for these signs and symptoms. Preventing myopia and early diagnosis and treatment of myopia are important to preventing progression, as myopia can lead to serious eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. If you notice any signs, make an appointment with your eye doctor right away.
Childhood is critical for vision development. We encourage all who skipped their annual eye exam to make an appointment and make regular vision screenings part of your new post-COVID routine. Request an appointment by choosing the Eyepic location nearest you. Find your location and request an appointment here.
Get your children’s eyes back on track!