Can excessive screen time due to COVID-19 bring out underlying vision problems?
Author: Dr Valerie Lam
The answer is YES!
With most everyone either working from home or attending school online due to COVID-19, we are all using computers and digital technology more than ever. When our eyes are on a screen all day, the demand on the eyes to focus harder and stay aligned is tripled!
If the vision system is not strong enough to withstand all this extra demand, then vision problems will definitely rise to the surface, this is now known as ‘Digital Eyestrain‘.
Children are particular at risk of experiencing and showing signs of eye strain from excessive screen time and many parents are seeking the myths from the facts.
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Signs of eye strain
Do you or your child experience any of the following symptoms associated with screen use?
- Tired eyes
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Loss of productivity
- Blurry vision when looking up from screen
- Loss of place when reading
- Decrease reading comprehension
If you answered yes to any of the above symptoms, you may have a weakness in your vision system.
Some kids may not even know they have a vision related problem (because that’s the way they’ve always seen) but it may manifest in signs such as poor attention or cooperation with virtual learning.
How can optometrists help?
As your optometrists, we can definitely help by prescribing special glasses to ease the strain on the eyes.
Vision therapy: If you have an underlying weakness in your vision system, then what you really need is vision therapy to strengthen your vision system so you can cure these problems once and for all!
Through vision therapy, we can strengthen your child’s vision system so these problems won’t be an issue anymore.
We can boost their success with virtual learning and remove any physical barriers that may be getting in the way of their learning.
Myopia management: Your optometrist should also be watching out for myopia progression in your child.
The worsening of a child’s myopia (nearsightedness) can occur in response to excessive screen time.
We know that prolonged screen time and indoor time can lead to an elongation of the eye, causing your child’s glasses prescription to worsen. The proper way to monitor this is to measure axial length, or the full length of the eye, periodically. If your child’s vision is rapidly changing, then you need to start them in a myopia management program right away.
We all hope that by the end of 2021 we’ll reach the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the meantime we need to be doing everything we can to protect our eyes and our children’s eyes from so much screen time.
Talk to your local optometrist if you or your child are experiencing any of the symptoms above related to excessive screen time during COVID-19 to see what else can be done to alleviate your vision problems.
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