COVID-19 And Back To School 2021
Back to school for 2021 is upon us again. Not like 2020, we have several COVID-19 Vaccines. The schools, teachers, staff, administration, and students are better prepared this school year fall 2021. However, we must be prepared to practice safe protocols to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Back to normal will be something we will have to continue working on and must always adhere to safety protocols. Parents are doing as much as they can to safeguard their kids this year.
In the school year 2021 -2022, we will have PK, K- 12, and college students attending in-person classes while some schools will leverage both in-person and virtual learning. Regardless of the option that was chosen there still be a computer, and blue light. In 2019 approximately 65% of teachers say they use digital learning tools to teach every day. Fifty-three percent of teachers say students use digital learning tools to learn every day. Fifty-seven % of students say they use digital learning tools to learn every day. These numbers increased significantly during the school year 2020-2021 due to Covid-19. It is projected that teachers will continue to use computers and digital learning school during class and out of class for assignments. It is said that at least 1 in 10 elementary school kids have some form of binocular dysfunction.
It is important that we, parents and teachers, do our best to make it as easy as possible for kids to be able to learn. Some kids have issues that inhibit their ability to grasp concepts because they are struggling to keep up with the demands placed on them during school due to vision issues. Some have attention issues or have processing deficits that make it hard for them to learn. Most people don’t know there can be underlying eye issues that make things worse, not only for kids with learning disabilities but also for perfectly “normal” kids. Some kids that are diagnosed with learning disabilities might only have underlying eye issues that are causing the symptoms for which the learning disability is being diagnosed. Because of the trend toward digital learning, the blue light effect will compound the issue.
Blue Light And Other Eye Issues Resulting From Digital / E-Learning
Getting blue light protection for their childrens’ prescription lenses should be on each parent’s “must-have” list. Blue light, like that emitted from laptop screens, tablets, smartphones, or computers, can be harmful to our eyes. Blue light has the potential to not only accelerate the growth of cataracts but studies have shown it may contribute to permanent retinal damage. Besides those physical changes to eye health that cumulative, overexposure to blue light can cause, blue light can also disrupt healthy sleep patterns and cause digital eye strain. To combat digital eye strain, eye care professionals recommend taking frequent breaks from electronic devices by using the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of digital device or computer use, take a 20-second long break and look at something 20 feet or beyond. Doctors also recommend making sure the brightness setting on screens is set to as low as possible (you only need to turn the brightness up beyond 50% in direct sunlight.) Additionally, people should increase the distance they are away from their screens by either holding the device further away or by setting the computer screen at an arm’s length away. Prescription lenses that filter out some blue light are available from eyecare and eyewear professionals as a way for parents to truly ensure they are safeguarding their children from digital eye strain and harmful blue light.
Blue light protection is not the only thing that should be on the minds of parents this year. Parents also have to remember they should still schedule the appointment for their childrens’ annual eye exam if possible in their area. During a comprehensive eye exam, optometrists will examine children to make sure they are not only seeing clearly but also that their eyes can work together comfortably and efficiently while performing near work like reading and using a computer. With a clean, comfortable, and efficient vision, children will be better prepared to handle their workload and accomplish all of their academic goals.
Adults too can benefit from blue light protection and getting their eyes checked. 2020 has many adults working from home. Constant Zoom meetings and relentless emails and assignments can leave us glued to the screens of our home computers and laptops. Getting your eyes checked, talking to your eye care and eyewear professionals about your individual visual needs, and heeding their recommendations can provide some relief from the digital stress many of us are feeling during this unprecedented time. So don’t forget, get the best care and protection not only for your childrens’ eyes but for yours as well.
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and keep your feet on the ground”, ___ Theodore Roosevelt