COVID and Children’s vision

As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, it is clear that our kids continue to endure changes. From not being able to get out, to school closures, online learning, and other changes. Today, we want to look at specifically children’s vision and how the pandemic could be causing increasing vision issues.

When should I take my child in for an exam?

At a child’s six month check up, vision is evaluated by the pediatrician. Typically vision checks are done by taking a finger across the line of vision or an instrument that plays music and lights up. Additionally, young children commonly have a diagnoses of farsighted. This is normal and typically changes over time.

Why should I take my child in for a full exam?

Before starting kindergarten, children need a comprehensive eye exam. Why? Because vision is crucial to learning. The majority of learning in young children is based on vision. Allowing for recognition, comprehension, and retention.

Furthermore, children’s vision is unstable. A child that can see perfectly now, may but may also have a growth spurt in six months completely changing their vision. Since some children cannot express their visual needs, it is important to get their vision checked annually. This will ensure they are able to see clearly and succeed in school. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nationwide, only 10% of children between the ages of 9 and 15 get the corrective eyewear they need to see clearly.

In a challenging time for education in general, it is more crucial now than ever to ensure your child can see clearly. Adding to the undiagnosed poor vision is increasing blue light exposure.

Blue Light – what is it and is it harmful?

Without getting too technical, blue light is one of the many types of lights in the visual/ invisible light spectrum. Most individuals are familiar with knowing the sun gives off invisible rays of light called UV that can cause health issues. Which is why we always recommending a good pair of sunglasses in Colorado.

Sunlight is the main source of blue light. The highest level of exposure is being outside in the sun. With that said, there are many man made blue light producers. Such as fluorescent and LED lights and TVs. Kids are increasing screen time exponentially due to the availability of computers, tablets, and smart phones. Creating long term effects of blue light damage. In addition, children are being educated remotely. Adding more blue light to their vision.

How has COVID changed my child’s vision?

Studies who vision is overlooked in its importance in education. Now, children are also increasing their blue light exposure. This in a time parents do not have the resources or time to get their children what they may need. Prior to the pandemic 98% of children 8 years old and younger had an electronic device of their own. Just six years ago only 52% of homes with young children had devices.

In 2011, only 1% of children had their own device and in 2017 42% have their own device. With online school it is safe to assume that number is going up. Additionally, television is on always or most of the time in 42% of homes as background noise. Experts found this trend is hurting vision, language and other learning.

What can I do?

If you are like me, these times feel hopeless. That does not mean we want to stop trying our best. Continuing to take children in for their annual eye exams. Additionally, remember that kids should limit their screen time outside of school since their schooling is mostly on computer and tablet screens. Finally, it is important for adults and children to follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minuets of screen time, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away.

Investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses can also help with children complaining of headaches, dry eyes, and other fatigue issues.

Our clinics can help! Contact us today for an appointment!