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Increased Screen Time Due to Virtual Learning Linked to Eye Deterioration

Increased screen time associated with virtual learning has been shown to cause digital eye strain in children, according to a study reported at AAO 2021, the 125th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

110 students, aged 10 to 17 years, were surveyed before and after virtual school involving computer time from 3 to 10 hours, and all students were free of vision issues before the study. Two surveys of symptoms of eyestrain and convergence weakness showed that the more time students spent online, the more likely they were to experience eye strain, headaches, dry eyes, and fatigue, as well as convergence insufficiency, where the eyes struggle to work together looking at screens, and words may appear blurred, double or moving.

Fifty-three percent of the children recorded an increase in eyestrain symptoms. Fifty-seven percent of students experienced eye strain, and 61% experienced symptoms of convergence insufficiency, with 17% of cases of convergence insufficiency severe.

Reported in: AAO 2021: Virtual School Can Harm Children’s Vision | PracticeUpdate


This is an example of behavioural optometry’s concepts that vision function can deteriorate and change due to being forced to work on screens for long periods, without breaks and over and over again. In the same way shortsightedness (myopia) development has been shown to be related to increased screen time and decreased outside time.