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Could extra screen time during pandemic cause eye problems for kids?

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 5:07 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Could more screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic cause vision problems in kids?

Local health experts said it’s possible, but still too early to tell.

It’s always at their fingertips, cellphones, laptops, all kinds of electronic devices.

“Kids spend about 8 hours a day on their devices,” said Dr. Glen Steele, Southern College of Optometry Professor. “That 8 hours a day was determined before the pandemic started. Now, if you’re in virtual school you add another 7-8 hours a day and it becomes a real problem.”

He said lately, he’s seen more children between the ages of 7 and 10 come in with vision issues.

More: SCS parent shares concerns about virtual learning, says son has ‘emotionally regressed’

But health experts said too much screen time can be harmful and they’re seeing those effects more now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A couple of weeks ago, in two days running, I had four kids that came in and their complaint was seeing double after school,” he said.

Dr. Steele said it’s not necessarily the screen that causes damage, but more so the intensity of which they look at the screen.

He said there’s still no indication that it has long term effects on kids, but said parents should be aware.

Dr. Steele suggests kids take a break from electronic devices every 10 minutes and said the child’s hand holding the device should rest on their lap rather than up to their face.

“Kids will push on through discomfort, but when you push on through discomfort that creates possibly nearsightedness, focusing problems that could last longer,” he explained.

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