ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Back to school season is underway and as families start getting their children ready for school, it is an important time to start looking at eye health.

Over the summer break, kids have been spending more hours using computers and other digital devices which can impact their eyes. Reports show that pre-teens and teenagers spend between five and a half to over eight hours looking at screens a day.

Dr. Ron Benner, President of the American Optometric Association says since the pandemic screen time has increased dramatically. He says the association is doing a lot of research and studies, but he recommends parents practice the 20/20/20 rule.

“Every twenty minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Allow the muscles in the eyes to relax, the focusing system to relax just a few moments before returning to the screen” said Dr. Benner.

He explained recent studies have shown that if children go outside for more than two hours a day, doctors may see a lower instance of myopia and a slower progression of myopia rates.

Dr. Benner says 80% of learning comes from visual learning and if there are any defects with that, this can impact athletic engagement, academic performance, social interaction, and even child self-esteem.

“We encourage parents to get children into their local doctor of optometry for that annual in-person comprehensive exam. Develop that relationship so we can talk about the child’s normal development and help them succeed in the classroom,” recommended Dr. Benner.

But even as you get ready for your doctor’s visit, it is important to note that there are two different types of exams; vision screening and an annual comprehensive exam.

Vision screening tests what you can see at a distance. However, the comprehensive exam analyzes the focusing functioning, health of the eye, and more.

To find a local optometrist near you, visit the American Optometric Association doctor locator.