Doctors warn increased screen time in virtual learning can impact vision

Empty classroom desks

With virtual learning, kids are spending more and more time closed indoors, with their eyes glued to the screen–from cell phones, to tablets, to television.

Eye doctors tell CBS46 it’s hurting children’s vision—a growing problem of the pandemic.

Dr. Hira Fatima says she sees it in her patients.

“They’re complaining more of headaches, eye strain. They come in saying my eyes hurt, my head hurts. Parents come in saying they are avoiding doing their school work and making excuses,” she tells CBS46’s, Hayley Mason.

Dr. Fatima says it’s not simply an effort to avoid schoolwork, but a sign of strained vision and progressive near-sightedness.

“Parents are not bringing kids in on time for the eye exams until it’s too late a lot of the times,” she says adding that parents should try to adhere to early eye exams for children.

When it comes to screen time for kids five and under, doctors recommend no more than an hour each day. For children six and up, no more than an hour beyond regular virtual learning requirements.

Dr. Amber Zaunbrecher, O.D. also recommends wearing blue light filter glasses—with up to a 70% filter.

“They’re like sunglasses for the computer screen. I wear them myself,” says the Optometrist with Eye to Eye Vision Center in Marietta. “I have them on my husband’s glasses and it helps to filter out the light that is coming off the computer screen.”

They both say getting kids outside will help refocus the eyes offering a broader perspective and a break from the zooming and staring at a screen.