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Omaha eye doctor give tips on how to protect children’s vision

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Coronavirus Pandemic has resulted in an unusual amount of time in from of the computer and the extra screen time is putting added stress on the eyes of our children.

“I’m just on my computer or my phone,” said Jaz Lyn Knaak.

Grandmother Janet Knaack McLeaney brought Jaz Lyn to get her eyes checked. She’s worried about Jaz Lyn’s vision since she’s been spending more time in front of screens.

“She looks a little too close to the screen so I’m wondering what kind of damage that does,” said McLeaney. “I think she’s going to need some new glasses.”

Jaz Lyn’s not alone, pandemic learning hasn’t exactly been easy on the eyes.

“We have certainly seen an increase in the number of patients coming to see us,” said Dr. Samiksha Jain, Pediatric Ophthalmologist at Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

“We are seeing when kids are on these devices they are so glued and so kind of invested in it, they forget to blink their eyes,” said Dr. Jain.

Jain said more than ever she is seeing increasing cases of Myopia or nearsightedness, but the most common complaint is eye strain.

“Eye strain can present as itchy eyes, dryness, burning, headaches even because they are doing too much prolonged near work,” said Jain.

Jain said it’s important to limit screen time. Parents can practice what’s called the 20-20-20 rule.

“After prolonged activity of 20 minutes or so they encourage their child to take a break for 20 seconds and the child looks further like outside like at 20 feet distance so this way you’re kind of relaxing your eyes,” said Jain.

Janet said she does her best to keep a close eye on Jaz Lyn’s vision.

“She has a lazy eyes, it’s not too good to be exposing her to the screen time too long,” said Janet. “We’ve tried to limit it to 2 hours or so after school now.”

Just as Janet thought, Dr. Jain prescribed a new pair of glasses for Jaz Lyn, but Grandmother and Granddaughter said the best prescription is still going back to school.

“I’d rather be in in-person learning because there’s a lot of like field trips,” said Jaz Lyn.

“She needs to get back, I think it’s good for the kids to get back,” said Net.

Jain also said too much screen time can cause sleep disorders. She also encourages proper lighting and good posture.

“If you notice them complaining about how things are blurry or they’re holding the screen too close, that may indicate problems with their vision.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, no screen time is recommended for babies.

Toddlers should have no more than two hours of screen exposure. It is recommended parents of kids and teens five to 18 years old place consistent limits on the use of any media.

It’s up to parents to decide how and how often kids use their screens and whether the screen time is positive or negative.

For kids of all ages, screen time should replace time needed for sleeping, eating, playing, studying, and interacting with family and friends.

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