Eyesight can change substantially as a child grows, and problems that cropped up were traditionally caught by routine exams at school. But with more children participating in remote learning and screen time increased to boot. Many doctors are recommending regular eye screenings to parents.
Most Children Are Far-Sighted
What is perfectly normal among children is far-sightedness. Their eyesight is strong, and they are able to focus it great distances—relative to an adult—without much effort at all. Traditionally, kids have sat in classrooms looking at a teacher and a chalkboard that was far across the room.
Remote Learning Has Altered the Classroom
Remote learning requires fast internet like Spectrum internet or HughesNet as children are now spending much of their classroom time in front of desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and so forth. Their near-sight is not nearly as strong. Their eyes will compensate, and as their screen times up, eye strain becomes much more common and can lead to a wide range of issues.
Monitor Your Children
Monitor your children whenever possible during screen time. This includes while attending school and completing homework but also when playing video games, streaming favorite movies online, surfing the web, and participating on social media. The body language should be relaxed. If they are squinting or leaning into the screen or otherwise appear uncomfortable or antsy, it may indicate an issue with their near-vision.
The Issues With Undiagnosed Eyesight Problems Among Children
Parents should put aside any concerns of permanent eye damage. There is no evidence that too much screen time, eye strain, and so forth can cause irreparable damage. However, lack of focus, fatigue, and headaches are very real issues among children in this remote learning age. Further exacerbating the problem is that children often lack the self-awareness to realize that there is a problem and correct it.
The Interesting Development of Eyesight in Children
Eyesight tends to develop in children based on how they use it. Traditionally, children have spent a lot of time indoors staring across rooms at chalkboards and a lot of time outdoors playing with friends. Those behaviors have favored far-sightedness and are the reason near-sightedness is slower to develop.
How eyesight develops in children will likely change as their behaviors do. Many eye doctors believe that it already is changing and worry that far-sightedness may be slower to develop in the modern child. To offset this, doctors recommend the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes, children spend looking at a screen, they should spend 20 minutes participating in an activity that requires them to look far.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an exam for children every two months from the time they are three years old and all the way up to the age of 19. How often schools conduct exams vary from one district to the next, but the majority strive to adhere to this schedule.
Parents should be aware of when their children’s school conducts eye exams and fill in the gaps. Many eye doctors are offering inexpensive eye exams for children because they are aware of the current issues caused by remote learning. Be mindful that it is not a big deal if your child does need glasses to correct near-vision. Most children will outgrow the need as they continue to develop.
Among children, eyesight can develop fast, and eyesight issues can occur fast as well. The two-month period is just general guidance. If you see your child struggling with his or her near-sight, it is better not to wait for the next planned exam and instead schedule an assessment as soon as you can.