Has COVID-19 Caused Eye Strain in Children?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, January 24, 2022

Yes, extensive online learning has caused an increase in cases of digital eye strain among children. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been acquiring information regarding the virus’ effect on the eyes— and more specifically, the effect online schooling has had on children’s vision.

According to reports, due to extended screen time not only have children become more near-sighted (myopic), but they are also complaining of eye strain. 

Prolonged usage of any digital device can lead to a condition called digital eye strain (DES), also referred to as computer vision syndrome (CVS).

Recent studies show that digital eye strain impacts over 50 percent of adults and children.

What are the symptoms of digital eye strain?

The most common symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Sore or red eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

SEE RELATED: COVID-19 and Computer Vision Syndrome

If your child complains of any of these symptoms above, schedule a functional vision evaluation with an eye doctor near you.  

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How do screens cause eye strain? 

Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital conducted a study to determine if a correlation exists between prolonged screen time and children’s vision. Participants of the study included 110 students ages 10 to 17 who had healthy vision prior to beginning their online courses.

Throughout the duration of the study, over 50 percent of the participants reported symptoms of eye strain.

The researchers concluded that prolonged screen time directly correlates to an increased risk of digital eye strain.

How can an eye doctor help?

If your child is complaining of any symptoms related to digital eye strain, or another vision problem, it is important to consult with an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Not only will this facilitate prompt treatment of their visual problem, it will also make online learning — and learning in general— an easier experience, as your child will be given the essential visual skills they need to succeed.

Signs of a vision problem

  • Headaches
  • Excessive squinting
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Frequent head tilting
  • Covering one eye while reading or using a digital device
  • Sitting in close proximity to the TV or computer screen
  • Difficulty reading

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), every child should undergo an annual eye exam from as young as six months of age, to ensure their eyes and vision are developing properly.

Routine eye exams facilitate early identification and treatment of vision problems that can hinder a child’s early development, and their academic and athletic success in the future.

How can vision therapy help? 

Vision therapy is a personalized program that strengthens the communication between the eyes and brain and to improve the visual skills necessary for clear and comfortable vision.

Vision therapy can be an effective treatment to relieve symptoms of digital eye strain in children and make online learning a more comfortable experience.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Eye Conditions

To learn more about the benefits of vision therapy, schedule a functional visual evaluation for your child.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more children are complaining of eye strain due to the effects of online learning and extended screen time. 

Vision therapy can be an effective treatment to relieve symptoms of digital eye strain in children and make online learning a more comfortable experience.