Remote Learning Blamed For Increase In Eyesight Problems Among Children

It's been a year since the pandemic forced children off-campus and into remote learning. Now, besides the mental and emotional impacts, there's another consequence for all those hours in front of computer screens.

Video Transcript

- Well, it's been a year since the pandemic forced children off campus and into remote learning. Now, besides the mental and emotional impacts, there's another consequence for all those hours in front of computer screens.

- So what's the code for the ReadWorks test?

- Nine-year-old Jared Harris is one of thousands of LAUSD students that has been doing school work through Zoom over the past year. That means between remote learning and after-school homework, the third grader spends up to seven hours a day on the computer.

JARED HARRIS: One eye is starting to make some of my stuff that I see a little blurry.

- So his father Larry took him to a pediatrician.

LARRY HARRIS: He was doing the eye chart. And he was really having problems seeing it. He goes, yeah, his eyes are pretty bad. I go, what a drastic decrease all of a sudden. And she goes, yeah, that's not unusual this year. A lot of kids are having a lot of eyestrain from being online all day.

- It's an increasing trend ophthalmologist David Samimi at Dignity Health is taking note of.

DAVID SAMIMI: Patients have been complaining about having more eye irritation in general. And we think it is from, like we said, staring at the screen, not blinking.

- Because of this pandemic side effect, Dr. Samini says he suspects there will be a higher rate of children developing myopia or nearsightedness, since many are spending more time looking at screens.

DAVID SAMIMI: We think that when patients are spending so much more time focusing up close that the shape of the eye changes. And maybe even the lens inside the eye changes to a degree that, at rest, the patients are more nearsighted. And so yes, it may lead to an increase in the need for glasses to be able to see well at distance.

- And as a return to in-person learning is closer in sight for LAUSD students, Harris says he will continue to keep his children at home for virtual learning.

DAVID SAMIMI: Both my kids, they have autoimmune disorders. I understand this is one of the fallouts we're going to have to deal with is vision issues.

- And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children take frequent breaks from close-up work and spending more time outside when possible.