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Nearsightedness is on the rise in kids, screen time may be to blame

PITTSBURGH — Between online activities and virtual schooling during the pandemic, studies show that children’s screen time surged.

As a result, researchers are also noticing the kids’ vision has been getting worse.

For some children, screen time rose more than 60 percent during the pandemic. And with that so did cases of myopia, also known as nearsightedness.

According to the Journal of American medical association in ophthalmology, 6-year-old kids were three times more likely to be diagnosed with nearsightedness in 2020.

Dr. Sarah Zambotti, an optometrist at Allegheny Health Network, suggest that for every 20 minutes of screen time, that children take a 20 second break.

“A lot of kids six and under have their own phone. So when they are done with school online, they go and just play on their phone or video games because we have been on lockdown. They don’t go out with their friends on the playground because we have all been quarantining,” she said. “About every 20 minutes, take just 20 seconds to look out the window if nothing else. If you can get up and walk around and look around, looking out the window gives you that ‘looking toward infinity’ and your eyes can relax.”

The doctor also suggests getting regular eye exams starting as young as possible.