How the pandemic has impacted your eye health

More children are being diagnosed with nearsightedness during the pandemic
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 12:05 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - May is Healthy Vision month and after a year of looking at screens, many people’s eyes may not be as healthy as they would like.

Dr. Jake McMillin, an opthalmologist at Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor, and Haun, said they’ve been getting more patients coming in with complaints.

“We’ve seen a lot of patients that come into the clinic and are complaining of computer eyestrain. These symptoms are a headache, eye fatigue, dry eye and it’s this whole sort of constellation of symptoms. It’s actually been termed “computer eye strain.,” McMillin said. “It’s actually a clinical diagnosis. And if you have underlying dry eyes, we know that when you’re looking at the computer ... you blink less and you’re not smearing tears and oils across the eye which makes the dry eye worse.”

He said to follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes a person spends using a screen- look away at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Dr. McMillin also said more children are being diagnosed with nearsightedness because they’re not focusing on distant objects as much as they are screens up close.

“If you have a child that’s under the age of 10 or 12 years old and has increasing nearsightedness their glasses prescription is increasing every time they see the doctor and you’re concerned about it, there’s a couple of different things we can do the first is just environmental changes. So getting your kids outside the recommendation is one to two hours a day of outside play and that lets them focus at a distance target, playing sports is a great way to do that. The second is to consider medical intervention,” McMillin said.

According to McMillin, there are some eye drops that have been approved for avoiding nearsightedness progression.

McMillin said he’s also seeing an uptick in people asking for LASIK surgery so they can avoid glasses or contacts.

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