Increased Virtual Learning Impacts Children’s Vision

The Vision Impact Institute recently convened experts in children’s vision and health to discuss the implications of digital learning on children’s vision, a year after many schools globally switched to virtual learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel included Donna Mazyck, Executive Director – National Association of School Nurses; Becky Palm, President and Executive Director – Essilor Vision Foundation; Joseph Ricci, Executive Director – Pennsylvania Optometric Association; and Dr. Charles Shidlofsky, Clinical Director – Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas.

The discussion highlighted the many ways the pandemic is affecting children’s vision:

  • Children are experiencing vision changes due to additional screen time and less time outdoors. The changes have increased rates of myopia, eye strain, and issues moving focus from near to far vision.
  • Methods of delivering care have been strained, with school screenings, comprehensive eye exams through an eyecare professional, and philanthropy affected. As conditions improve, these barriers to access will lessen.
  • The connection between vision and learning is crucial to children’s futures, as eighty percent of learning is through the eyes. Awareness and evidence-based advocacy will remain key to addressing this public health need.

“It’s clear that as we globally navigate changes in children’s education, we must prioritize vision,” says Kristan Gross, Global Executive Director, Vision Impact Institute. “Inequities in access to care existed before the pandemic, but have been compounded by this rapid shift to digital learning. Partnerships with organizations like these will be crucial to ensuring that our children see well and enjoy an education that will unlock their future potential.”