Since the onset of COVID-19, many children have been learning remotely through distance learning programs. While parents are concerned about their children falling behind academically, Dr. Stasney and Dr. Berry are concerned that undiagnosed vision problems may impact the child's school performance.
Undetected vision problems may hinder a child's ability to learn. That's why our doctors strongly recommend that children undergo a thorough eye exam before the new school year begins.
While it's tempting to rely on vision screenings provided by schools, these superficial visual acuity tests can identify only a limited number of eyesight problems. Only a comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor can accurately diagnose and address a wide range of problems related to vision and eye health.
Why Are Eye Exams Important?
Up to 80% of children's learning is visual, so even the slightest vision problem can have a negative impact on their academic achievement. Taking a child in for an eye exam once a year will allow your eye doctor to detect and correct refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism, and check their visual skills, such as convergence insufficiency, binocular vision, focusing and more.
Comprehensive, medical eye exams are the best way to detect mild and serious eye health conditions. Routine examinations are especially important for children with a family history of eye health problems.
How Is Vision Affected By Online Learning?
The amount of time children spend looking at digital screens was already a concern in the pre-pandemic era—but the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. Children spent twice as much time on screens during COVID-related closures than they did prior to the pandemic, as much as 9 hours per day.
For one thing, spending prolonged periods of time on digital devices forces the eyes to work harder, making children (and adults) more susceptible to digital eye strain, one of the hallmark symptoms of computer vision syndrome. People who spend 2 or more consecutive hours staring at a screen are at higher risk of developing this condition.
Some computer vision syndrome symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Eye fatigue
- Eye pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
These symptoms can be caused by a combination of the following factors:
- Glare and reflections from the screen
- Excessive time looking at a screen
- Poor lighting
- Poor posture
- Screen brightness
- Undetected vision problems
In addition to digital eye strain, several studies have found that children who spend many hours indoors doing “near work” — writing, reading and looking at computers and other digital devices — have a higher rate of myopia progression.
A recent study found that first-graders who spent at least 11 hours per week playing outside in the sunshine experienced slower myopia progression. Some researchers think that exposure to sunlight and looking at distant objects while playing outdoors might help decrease myopia progression.
So come to Advanced Eyecare, where we can care for all your eyecare needs.