Local optometrists say the pandemic has led to an increase in vision problems. Here's why.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The pandemic changed the way many children see the world in more ways than you can imagine.
Local optometrists say the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in vision problems.
The Chief of Optometry at Kaiser Permanente West L.A., Dr. Maxwell Cheng said since the pandemic's stay-at-home orders, young eyes have changed.
"There's a large increase in myopia or nearsightedness in children of the United States. It used to be about 25%. It's predicted to go up to 50%," he said.
While genetics can be a factor, Cheng said one major reason behind the increase is children are spending less time outdoors and more time on digital devices.
"If a child is nearsighted at a young age, the chance of them becoming very nearsighted is much greater as they get older," Cheng said.
Besides glasses, there are other ways to treat nearsightedness. Cheng said you can use contact lenses or even drops.
"Certain medications can be used to slow the progression of myopia," he said.
There are more corrective treatments, but Cheng said it is better to focus on prevention. Get kids outdoors so they can look at objects in the distance, and if they have to be on screens for school, remember this 20-20-20 rule.
"Every 20 minutes when you're looking at a computer or digital device, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds," Cheng said.
With kindergarten underway, 5-year-old Albert Lomeli's mom just wants to make sure her son can see everything in the classroom. Vision problems run on her side of the family.
"I got my glasses early. So, I really wanted to make sure that he was developing okay," said Monique Lazalde of Long Beach. Even indoors, she says you don't have to rely on electronics.
"You've got coloring books; you've got different board games. He really likes slime, too. So, he plays this slime or plays with the pets," said Lazalde.
Doctors say a child's vision can change dramatically in as little as one semester so it's important to get your child's vision checked every 12 months.
"If they're not able to see well, that will affect their ability to do well in school," said Cheng.