POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – The pandemic may be nearing the end, but some of the effects are already noticeable.
According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal, eye doctors say they are seeing more children with new or worsening prescriptions for myopia, or near-sightedness.
The article says the leading cause could be the increased screen time for kids while they were at home during the pandemic.
“They are using a lot more tablets and all those little handheld devices that we tend to hold a little bit closer,” said Summit Eye Care Optometrist Dr. Toni Watt. “We know the closer we hold things, the harder our eyes have to work.”
Dr. Watt says that while genetics play a role in the presence of myopia, lifestyle choices can have an effect on how much risk a child is under.
But Dr. Watt has recommendations for how to improve your eyesight.
She says to follow the 20-20-20 rule, which means to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
“You don’t want to just look up and just kind of daze out,” Dr Watt said. “Look at something far away and get it nice, sharp, detail. Get it in focus, so that gives feedback to your visual system to kind of reset, relax, refocus.”
While looking directly at the sun may be a bad idea, being outside is a good one.
“Outdoor playtime, at least two hours of outdoor play time helps reduce that risk,” Dr. Watt said.
Dr. Watt also says that she is seeing a lot of her patients suffering from dry eye and says it can happen from us not closing our eyes.
“We don’t blink enough,” Dr. Watt said. “When we’re on a device, when we’re reading, our blink rate goes down. So, making sure that you have full effective blinks, where you make sure that your upper eyelid in your lower eyelid come in full contact together can also make a big, big difference.”
While Dr. Watt suffers from myopia herself and can’t improve her eyesight, she says its the next generation we can help most.
“I can’t do anything now about reducing my near sighted correction, but I can for my eight-year-old.”