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Mumbai: Doctors express concerns as pandemic delays eye tests

With screen-time having increased multifold, children complain of watery eyes, headache; docs say delay in check-ups may lead to vision-related issues.

While everyone has got used to and accepted the new normal of online learning, parents’ concerns over extra screen-time are slowly proving to be true and becoming more and more visible in the form of eye-related issues. With schools conducting classes and a number of extra-curricular activities through the online mode, children have started to complain of watery eyes, headaches and migraines. Even doctors have raised concerns over the fact that the pandemic was forcing parents to delay eye tests and check-ups of their wards, which according to them is absolutely necessary at regular intervals.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr. Nishant Kumar from Hinduja Hospital said, “Eye problems are not getting detected as people are reluctant to visit hospitals now. While the screen-time has increased, the traditional practice of finding out whether the child can see the writing on the board is missing. That used to be a very common way of knowing whether a child is facing any vision-related issues. Many schools used to conduct eye-checkups as well. These helped in early detection of eye problems. With constant exposure to screens, children are complaining of dry eyes and fatigue.” “Will we too see a generation of short-sighted people? We are not exposing children to sunlight and distant visions. All of this might not affect them right now, but it will in a couple of years. Children who wear spectacles need to visit their doctors on a regular basis. But many of them have missed their checkups as parents avoid taking them to a doctor in view of the pandemic,” added Dr. Kumar.


According to Dr. Ragini Parekh from J J Hospital, “The problem of screen-time harming eyes has been there but the pandemic has compounded it for sure. When parents are busy with their own work, they prefer to give their phones or other electronic gadgets to the children to keep them busy. This leads to a lot of eyestrain for them. When you are looking at something very closely, your eyes behave in a certain way. It is called accommodation spasm, a natural auto-focus, which helps one see. Because of this children might suffer from issues like dry eyes or watery eyes and suddenly might have problems with the distant vision.” Adding to this, Dr. Kumar shared, “Video games and those found in mobile phones have psychedelic colours to make them attractive. These can cause more strain to the eyes, and in some cases, can also lead to headache and migraine.”