– Inside Edition Staff
Like so many kids, 9-year-old Jared Harris hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom for more than a year. And when Jared started complaining of headaches, his dad Larry became concerned that all the time in front of his computer was affecting his eyesight.
It took a month to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist. In the meantime, Larry took to Facebook to see if anyone was experiencing the same problem. It turns out — Jared was far from alone.
Extended screen time during the pandemic is leading to myopia or nearsightedness, and it’s happening in even younger children, according to pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Milan Ranka.
“For older kids, it’s not uncommon, because there’s a lot of stress when you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior in high school. You have a lot of work to do. You don’t get a lot of sleep. It kind of goes along with having eye strain as well. But now when you see a first grader having this, it’s more of an alarming situation,” Ranka said.
Ranka said he has also seen more cases of misalignment and crossing of the eyes.
“We like to use the rule of ‘20-20-20.’ For every 20 minutes you’re doing something, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It’s a good rule of thumb to take the stress off your eyes,” Ranka said.
Meanwhile, Jared is trying his best to limit screen time. Because the problem is so widespread, he is still waiting to see the eye doctor.