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Children’s eye institute opens in Fort Myers

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Joey Pellegrino

The Southwest Florida Children’s Charities Eye Institute of Golisano Children’s Hospital opens its doors for the first time in Fort Myers Monday. The facility is much larger than the previous location and will have more pediatric ophthalmologists.

Kids have some common eye issues that they can help with, like lazy eyes and issues with tear ducts. The institute has extra-long exam rooms designed to help diagnose different eye conditions.

“These long exam rooms are specialized for the examination of eye muscle disorders which occur commonly in children, but occur in adults also,” said pediatric ophthalmologist Jessica Kovarik. “It is really going to allow for us to have more accurate and better evaluations of children with eye muscle disorders.”

Our children’s eyes are also suffering from all the extra screen time during the pandemic. Staring at a computer all day is not recommended for anyone, but especially not kids. Kovarik says she has seen a lot of direct effects of screen time on children’s vision.

She recommends giving their eyes a rest about every 20 minutes; that can be keeping their eyes shut or just looking out the window. When you focus on something up close to you—like a screen—for long periods of time, it takes a toll.

“That muscle, as you can imagine, gets tired, fatigued, just like any other muscle in the body when you are using it for many hours at a time,” Kovarik said. “That muscle gets tired, so it leads to eye strain headaches, eye fatigue… we are seeing lots of dry eye.”

Kovarik also says when you are focused for a long time, you don’t blink as much, and your eyes get irritated and start to burn.