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How the pandemic made children’s vision worse

Myopia

This year has been a challenging one for many. Besides all of the impacts on healthcare, jobs, and the economy, children have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. With the conversion to online learning, many kids have been spending more time than ever on computers and tablets causing worsening myopia or nearsightedness. 

 

Why is this year so different for children's eyes?

Normally children learn in a classroom, using their distance vision to see the teacher and the board. This allows the eyes to be fully relaxed which can reduce the stimulus for the eye to grow and the prescription to worsen. With all near work (computer, phone, tablet, reading) our eyes have to make an effort to focus and therefore are not fully relaxed. This prolonged need to focus is one of the factors contributing to worsening myopic prescriptions. 

The impact of nearly an entire year of online learning on some children has worsened the existing trends of increasing myopia in children. This has been documented in a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association from 2021 stating “Home confinement due to coronavirus disease 2019 appeared to be associated with a substantial myopic shift in children” and reiterated in The Wallstreet Journal article discussing worsening myopia in children:  

 

What should we do now?

It may be more important than ever before that we evaluate children’s eyes to determine the impact this year at home has had on their vision. Our doctors have noted rapidly changing myopia, complaints of visual eye strain on computers, and younger children requiring prescriptions. On a positive note, the field of myopia management has expanded significantly in recent years with more options and research proving we can now slow progressive myopia. 

Be sure to have your child’s comprehensive eye exam before school starts and talk with your doctor about potentially starting myopia management for your child. 

 

Call to schedule an appointment for your child today at (954) 726-0204 or book online! 

Author
Dr. Sara Rasekhi Dr. Sara Rasekhi Optometric Physician at West Broward Eyecare Associates

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