Childhood vision problems increase during pandemic

Childhood vision problems increase during pandemic
Childhood vision problems increase during pandemic

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – After nearly a year of at-home learning and less time outdoors in organized sports, vision specialists are seeing an increase in children having problems with their eyesight.

Tanisha Maze, a mother of two young children, has worn glasses since the third grade so she was keenly aware when her daughter Danika seemed to be squinting and struggling to see.

“She kept doing it, kept squinting and was getting closer to the TV,” Maze said.

Optometrist Dr. Gabriela Olivares with the Eye Center Of Pembroke Pines is seeing more kids like Danika with myopia, which is also known as near-sightedness.

“This is the inability for kids to see out at a distance and it is due to the fact that the eye grows too long,” she said.

While it can be hereditary, 25% of children are at risk of developing myopia even if neither parent is near-sighted.

“Myopia can lead to long-term side effects of the eye, vision-threatening conditions such as retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma, so that’s why it’s so important to catch myopia early,” Olivares said.

Fortunately, there are ways to treat myopia progression.

“The three main ways are through therapeutic eye drops, certain contact lenses and also hard lenses called corneal reshaping technology,” she said.

Maze is just glad she addressed the problem early.

“Because I know in the future she would have had very poor vision,” she said.

Myopia develops quickly in childhood, but kids may not realize it’s happening and complain about it, which makes those annual kid vision check ups so important.

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