Time to put eye tests on back to school to-do-list with screen time surging during COVID


Optometrists at Bupa Optical are encouraging parents to add ‘book eye test for kids’ to their annual back to school to-do list with research suggesting screen time behaviour among Australian children changed dramatically during COVID lockdowns with children spending up to 27 more hours each week on their screens[1].


With many Australian children spending hundreds of days in lockdown or COVID-19 isolation over the course of the pandemic, the extra hours spent in front of devices for school and socialising combined with decreased outdoor time may result in more kids developing eye issues such as short-sightedness.

Bupa Optical Optometrist Karen Makin said if left undetected, students who once enjoyed perfect eyesight, may find their education suffering in 2022 as a result of undiagnosed myopia.

“Unlike many physical conditions, vision impairments can be difficult for a parent to identify, however there are some tell-tale signs a parent can take note of, such as squinting, watery eyes or just general tiredness and an inability to concentrate properly.

“Parents who suspect their child has developed a vision impairment or is experiencing a deterioration of an existing condition should visit an optometrist for an eye test,” said Karen.

Children were found to be 73 per cent less likely to meet moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity guidelines compared to pre-pandemic which is significant as separate studies have found that spending time outside is vital to reducing the incidence of myopia in children[1].

It is recommended that all children have their eyes tested before they start school for the first time, this will ensure that there are no underlying issues that may affect a child’s learning. Annual eye tests are recommended thereafter (or as advised by your eye care practitioner) to track any changes or emerging problems.

“If required, a pair of glasses or contacts can make a significant and immediate difference to a child’s day to day life and give them the best chance at succeeding at school.

“Another way to help protect your kids’ eyesight is by ensuring they maintain a healthy diet, foods like green leafy vegetables, fish, fresh fruit and foods high in antioxidants can all help in keeping your eyes healthy… it’s not just carrots as the old myths would have you believe,” said Karen.

Bupa Optical offer kids frames to suit different budget and style requirements such as single pairs from $150[1]. Some packages will also be 100% gap-free for eligible private health insurance policy holders[2].

Visit your local Bupa Optical store to book an eye test or visit here.

Media reference number: 22/101


[1] Single vision lenses

[2] Dependant on the individuals private health insurance inclusions and limits