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Your Healthy Family: National Online Learning Day

Posted at 7:22 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 07:22:09-04

Wednesday is National Online Learning Day. With an increase in online learning during this pandemic, eye doctors are seeing an uptick in eye issues.

One reason is because the pandemic has kept some people from seeing their eye doctor for more than a year.

"Even now, I'm seeing many patients that I had seen pre-pandemic just finally coming in. They're feeling comfortable," Dr. Jerry Neidigh from Grove Eye Care said.

He said screen time is also to blame. With online learning now more common, kids are spending more time in front of tablets and computers, and he’s seeing the impacts.

"There's been a huge increase in the amount of children that have become nearsighted. That's just been happening for years just because our visual demand has changed so much. Especially with remote learning, virtual learning, and all the devices and screen time, we've definitely seen an uptick in the number of children who are becoming nearsighted," he said.

"Right now, we're seeing children who have nearsightedness or myopia. We're seeing a much bigger increase in their prescription or how much their vision is getting worse over time," Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, a Pediatric Optometrist, said.

What can you do to prevent this from happening to your child? Experts said don’t skip out on your child’s regular eye exams. Catching these issues early can lead to better treatment. They recommend making sure your kids take plenty of breaks from screens and go outside. Also, follow the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes of screen time, look at something else 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Blue light glasses are becoming more popular. They’re designed to block your eyes from blue light from your screens.

Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Allison Babiuch said there’s no research to show blue light is actually harmful to our eyes.

"Yes, screens happen to be blue, and people have come up with this concern about blue light. But when you think about it, there’s blue everywhere around you," Dr. Babiuch said.

She said there are no scientific studies right now, directly linking screen time to issues with a child’s vision. Dr. Babiuch also said at this point, experts don’t know enough about blue light glasses to recommend them for you or your child.

"We're not recommending getting a screen or a certain kind of glasses to protect your eyes from blue light – it may not be doing you any good. Likewise, we also don’t know if by blocking blue light from the eyes, whether that could potentially create a different kind of problem," she said.

Dr. Babiuch said research shows too much blue light before bed time can interfere with sleep for both kids and adults, so it’s important to limit screen time before bed.