BC parents worry over kids' screen time in pandemic

Concern over screen time

Children’s appointments with optometrists dropped dramatically over the past year, despite increasing concerns from parents over the rise in children’s screen time amid the pandemic.

That’s according to a survey conducted by Richmond-based non-profit BC Doctors of Optometry, which found that 50 per cent of parents surveyed say they’re wary of making an in-person appointment with an optometrist for their children under 12 because they’re unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, the BCDO’s survey found that 72 per cent of parents (seven per cent more than last year) are worried about the effect of extended screen time on their children’s eye health during the pandemic.

“The drop in children’s eye appointments is concerning,” said Dr. Harbir Sian from BCDO.

“Young kids don’t always know how to tell you they are not seeing very well. We recommend infants have their first eye examination between six and nine months of age, and children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school to ensure optimal vision.”

The BCDO pointed out that MSP coverage is also available for annual comprehensive eye exams for children under 19.

Sian also suggests that parents should limit children’s screen time to a maximum of two hours a day, urging them to follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent digital eye strain - looking away every 20 minutes at an object that is about 20 feet away for a full 20 seconds.

Richmondites who don’t feel comfortable booking in-person appointments can use the Find a Doctor tool on the BCDO website to secure a telephone appointment instead.

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