WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Optometrists are seeing changes in children’s vision, and now they’re encouraging parents to keep an eye on their children’s eyesight ahead of distance learning starting in many districts.

“One of them is an increase in nearsightedness or prescription changes that’s number one that’s a common thing we have going on worldwide including America with being on devices more,” said Opticology Eyecare Associate and Optometrist, Dr. Laura Aelvoet. “The second thing we’ve been seeing is an increase in headaches and digital eye strain, blurry vision, and some dryness. So being on devices we tend to not blink, we over-focus, causing a lot of those issues.”

Dr. Aelvoet said despite these changes, there are different preventative measures parents can take to help.

“Making sure when your child is on a device, making sure their working distance or however far they are from the computer, tablet, phone is the proper distance,” said Dr. Aelvoet. “if they’ve been on the computer for about 20 minutes, we institute the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look about 20 feet away out the window if you can and just blink, blink, blink.”

Dr. Aelvoet said she and other optometrists do foresee these changes to continue. Parents may start to see changes over the next several months.

“A lot of my kids are on video games, playing computer games, phones, all fine there already experiencing that and doing that in school and out of school,” said Dr. Aelvoet. “I think it’s just going to make prescriptions increase and symptoms increase come this fall, maybe into spring.”

She encourages parents to monitor their children for symptoms, such as headaches or blurred vision. If any symptoms arise, parents should have their child’s eyes checked by a pediatric optometrist.

“Sometimes they’re overwhelmed up close and sometimes they do need a glasses prescription either to help them see up close, far away or to help them relax their system to help them see clearly and comfortably,” said Dr. Aelvoet.