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Distance Learning and Increased Nearsightedness

Nearsightedness, or myopia, is an ever-growing problem. It is estimated that about 40% of US children over the age of 12 need some sort of vision correction to help them see clearly and that number is only expected to increase drastically with time.

Risk factors for increasing nearsightedness include…

  • the number of parents that are also nearsighted,
  • decreased exposure to outdoor natural light,
  • and increased near work.

Given the current distance learning situation for so many students, screen time from very young children to high schoolers has increased severely.

Even prior to the pandemic, one study revealed that on average, a child ages 8-18 spends 7+ hours on their digital devices, not including time for academic uses (source). Given the large increase in time spent inside on digital devices, optometrists are expecting surges in nearsightedness.

An increase in myopia, or nearsightedness, can not only lead to bigger and heavier glasses but can also lead to several other ocular pathologies.

Increased nearsightedness increases one’s risk for retinal holes, tears, and detachments and also increases one’s risk for glaucoma, cataracts, low vision, and in extreme cases, blindness.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while your child is learning virtually:

  • Taking visual breaks and remember the 20-20-20 Rule.
  • Have a proper work station set up at home to encourage good posture.
  • Be mindful of your child’s working distance, which should be over 14 inches away from their paper and/or computer screens.
  • Ensure your child has good light when reading to help reduce strain.

Classic methods of correcting vision like glasses and contact lenses only fulfill the ever-increasing prescription and do nothing to help slow down the surges.

New options such as an eyedrop called Atropine, multifocal contact lenses, and bifocal glasses have been shown to help slow down the prescription increases and get to the root of the problem.

These new alternative methods to slow the increase in nearsightedness are now being offered at Fox Vision Development Center. Contact our office today to learn more about these methods and schedule an appointment to find the solutions that work best for your child.