LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Jared Harris, 9, is one of the thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District students learning remotely for the past year.
Between remote learning and after school homework, the third grader spends up to seven hours per day on the computer.
"One eye is starting to make some of my stuff that I see a little blurrier," Jared said.
Larry Harris, Jared's dad, took him to a pediatrician to find out what was going on.
"He was doing the eye chart, and he was really having problems seeing it," Harris said. "She said, 'His eyes are pretty bad.' I go, 'What a drastic decrease, all of a sudden.' She said, 'Yeah, it's not unusual this year. A lot of kids are having a lot of eye strain from being online all day.'"
It's an increasing trend that has Dignity Health ophthalmologist Dr. David Samimi taking note.
"Patients have been complaining about having more eye irritation in general, and we think it is from, like we said, staring at the screen not blinking," he said.
Because of this pandemic side-effect, Samimi said he suspects there will be a higher rate of children developing myopia, or nearsightedness, since many are spending much more time looking at screens.
"We think that when patients are spending so much more time focusing up close that the shape of the eye potentially kind of changes and maybe even the lens inside the eye changes to a degree that, at rest, the patients are more nearsighted," he said. "And, so yes, it may lead to an increase in the need for glasses to be able to see well at distance."
But, even with a return to in-person learning in sight for LAUSD students, Harris said he was going to keep his children at home for the remainder of the year.
"Both my kids, you know, they have autoimmune disorders," he said. "And I understand this is one of the fallouts we're going to have to deal with is vision issues."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking frequent breaks from staring at a screen and spending as much time outside as possible.
for more features.