Across the Gold Coast and Tweed, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools, outdoors parks and other entertainment events and spaces to close. This has forced children to “shelter in their homes”. And what do most children do when at home? They play video games and work at their computers or hand held digital devices for hours.
Lack of outdoor time and extensive screen time are both known risk factors for increasing myopia (shortsightedness) in children, a condition that increases the risk of permanent sight-threatening disease later in life.
Will we see a large increase in children developing short-sightedness in the next year? Will myopic children find that their prescription increases in strength at a faster rate in the coming year due to the COVID-19 lifestyle restrictions. It is very possible.
So what can parents do to lessen today’s challenges?
- Ensure that your child goes outdoors for 2 hours every day. Play in the yard or walk to the park.
- Try to limit screen time to only a couple of hours each day.
- Invent interesting outdoor activities and participate with your children.
- Get them to read or work on their devices outdoors. High light levels are thought to be a key protective factor of outdoor time in regards to Myopia. Even under shade, umbrella, or with a hat and sunglasses, the light levels typically reaching a child’s eye will exceed that of indoors. If they can’t get outdoors for this, due to weather or apartment living, do this near natural lighting, for example, by a large window.
Good luck and stay safe! If you are concerned about your child’s eyesight or want to learn more about how we can limit myopia progression as they get older, feel free to get in touch with us! We have multiple treatment options aimed at correcting blurred vision AND slowing the worsening over time. For more information visit https://envisionoptical.com.au/eye-care/conditions-disorders/myopia-control/ or https://goldcoastmyopiacontrol.com.au