LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – It’s been a year since the pandemic forced children off-campus and into remote learning. Now, besides the mental and emotional impacts, there’s another consequence for all those hours in front of computer screens.

9-year-old Jared Harris is one of the thousands of LAUSD students that has been doing schoolwork through Zoom over the past year. That means between remote learning and after-school homework, the third-grader spends up to seven hours a day on the computer.

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“One eye is starting to make some of my stuff that I see a little blurry,” said Harris.

His father, Larry took him to a pediatrician.

“He was doing the eye chart and he was really having problems seeing it, to see if his eyes are pretty bad, I go, then what a drastic decrease,” said the father.

According to Mr. Harris, the doctor indicated that this year, in particular, it was not unusual for kids to have eyestrain from being online all day.

It’s an increasing trend that Ophthalmologist, David Samimi of Dignity Health is taking note of.

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“Patients have been complaining about having more eye irritation in general and we think it is from, like we said, staring at the screen not blinking,” said Samimi.

Because of this pandemic side effect, Dr. Samimi says he suspects there will be a higher rate of children developing myopia or nearsightedness since many are spending more time looking at screens.

“We think that when patients are spending so much more time focusing up close, that the shape of the eye changes and maybe even the lens inside the eye changes to a degree that at rest, the patients are more nearsighted, so, yes it may lead to an increase in the need for glasses to be able to see well
at distance,” said Samimi.

As a return to in-person learning is closer in sight for LAUSD students, Harris says he will continue to keep his children at home for virtual learning.

“Both my kids have autoimmune disorders, and I understand this is one of the fallouts we’re going to have to deal with is vision issues,” said Harris.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children take frequent breaks from close-up work and spends more time outside when possible.