The impact of virtual learning on your child’s vision

The impact of virtual learning on your child’s vision

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When it comes to kids learning from home right now, there is no escape from digital devices. They are a link to a child’s classroom, teacher, and friends. The devices which are helpful right now can lead to some issues with your child’s vision.

“If things keep going the way they are, we will be on screens for a while,” said Brittany Clark, a mother of two whose children are learning virtually. “I am making sure they are in their Zoom meetings while also doing my own Zoom meetings.”

Clark’s son, Rory, is a first grader and Katie is in kindergarten. They end up spending a lot of time in front of their Chromebooks to get through school.

“Some days it’s closer to five hours,” Clark said.

Clark noticed something with her son while he was in his reading class.

“While he was trying to read he was squinting at the screen,” Clark said. “I asked the teacher to zoom in and I said, ‘Hey, can you zoom in on those words he can’t see them.’”

Clark said she noticed her son has also been having headaches. Those are two things that Dr. Natalie Katt, an optometrist with Dr. Black’s Eye Associates, says are typical signs of eye strain.

“I have a conversation about visual eye strain because of tablets e-learning almost every day,” Dr. Katt said.

With screens in hand, Dr. Katt says our visual focusing system is being overstimulated by an increase in near work.

“What this also led to over a long period of time is near-sightedness or myopia,” Dr. Katt said.

If kids aren’t seeing well, they aren’t going to learn as well. Some children may not have the opportunity to receive the vision screenings they usually receive in school – often creates a referral point for a comprehensive eye exam. That’s why Dr. Katt says parents should know what vision problems look like.

“Squinting, rubbing eyes, closing one eye when they are doing near task on their tablet or things like that, avoiding reading, and parents are noticing falling behind in their school work,” Dr. Katt said.

Since a lot of kids aren’t getting that PE time, make it a priority for them to get some time outdoors.

“Research shows that increasing time outdoors can decrease prevent the onset or progression, I should say of nearsightedness,” Dr. Katt said.

"Make sure your kids are taking a break from those screens. Dr. Katt says to follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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