WASHINGTON – The increase in screen time in children is causing serious vision problems and raising concerns about long-term health issues.
A new study has found that the rate of myopia has increased massively during the pandemic.
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“The pandemic, especially with the quarantine and being indoors and looking at a computer or even just the lack of outdoor activities has taken a toll on many children with eye strain, eye strain, headache, “Dr. Michael Rosenblatt with Washington Eye Doctors said.
The study, performed by the Journal of American Medical Association Opthamology, found that rates of myopia in children were three times higher during the pandemic compared to the past five years.
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This number was already increasing before the pandemic.
“We are talking about a pandemic but there is an epidemic that has been going on for several years that concerns us,” Rosenblatt said.
Doctors say myopia brings more than just blurry vision. It increases several eye health risks such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment.
“The more myopic a person is, they actually have a significant increase in eye health issues later in life and that is the big concern,” Rosenblatt said.
There are treatments for these health risks, like using certain contact lenses and prescription eye drops, but doctors say preventative measures are best.
Rosenblatt recommends the 20,20,20 rule for children and adults.
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“For every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds and look at 20 feet. Really, it’s about keeping your eyes flexible,” he said.
Nearsightedness is the lack of the ability to see things clearly from a distance, so doctors also say the time outdoors for children to view things from a distance is also crucial.
“Children aged 3, 4, 5 and 6 should have an hour and a half of outdoor activity each day,” Rosenblatt said.
Doctors also say children as young as five should see an eye doctor. They say pediatric eye checks are not enough.