COVID-19 Lockdown: The Impact On Children’s Eyes

Safe to say that the COVID-19 lockdown affected everyone in ways no one could have predicted. This is especially true of children. The amount of time spent on devices due to at homeschooling combined with less time outside has caused a ripple effect of consequences. Parents should be monitoring their children with regard to the COVID-19 lockdown and the impact on children’s eyes.

2020: “Year Of Quarantine Myopia”

boy sits in bed under a blanket and plays on a smartphone in a game in the dark.

The most significant consequence on children’s eyes from the COVID-19 lockdown is the increase in myopia, or near vision. School closures and lack of social activities have had a direct effect on the visual health of children. Home-based schooling forced the increase in time spent indoors in front of all types of electronic devices.

This, of course, involves continual use of near vision focus, and that requires accommodation. The results include kids having headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, and eyestrain. When we look at a screen for any length of time, we tend to blink less resulting in dry eyes, making the above symptoms even worse.

Myopia is already the most common eye condition in the world. One international study involving over 123,000 children aged 6-8 found that myopia increased up to 3 times during the COVID lockdown compared to the previous five years.

The consequences of lockdown and quarantine seems to have caused a faster progression of myopia which predisposes your child to have eye issues and possible vision loss in the future.

How Parents Can Help

Look for signs of eyestrain in your children. Watch for rapid blinking, headaches, rubbing eyes, squinting, keeping one eye closed, and complaining of eye strain.

  • The best way to compensate for any increase in myopia is to encourage your children to play outside for at least one or two hours a day. The change from near focus to distance focus will help to alleviate some of the eye strain due to near vision tasks. Multiple studies have shown that more outside time plays a protective role against developing myopia.
  • Explain how to practice the 20-20-20 guideline. Encourage them to look out in the distance 20 feet (out the window) for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes while they work on devices.
  • If you have been hesitant to take your child to Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates in Newtown Square, PA due to COVID, now is the time to schedule an eye test.
  • Replace any broken glasses. Your child may need a new prescription.
  • If your child has lazy eye, or amblyopia, their treatment might have gone “by the wayside” during the quarantine. Follow up now with Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates. Resume patching regimen and wearing eyeglasses.
  • A child with strabismus, or misaligned eyes, may need a new glasses prescription.

Any vision issue left undetected and untreated affects academic performance. Many experts have been focused on the short term effects of COVID and the quarantine, but unanticipated long term effects on children need monitoring.

Schedule an Appointment for Eye Care in Newton Square, PA

At Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates, our highly-trained eye doctors specialize in providing families in Newton Square, PA with the best in eye care. Call Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Associates at (610) 347-7672 for an appointment to identify any effects of COVID-19 on your child’s vision.