Is Screen Time Harming Your Kids’ Eyes?

The constant use of smartphones and other devices impacts a child’s development in many ways. But, it is important to pay close attention to their eye health. The blue light emitted from smartphones can lead to numerous eye problems in children. The impacts can range from temporary health issues like headaches to long term vision changes. As a parent, you might be wondering how too much screen time will affect your kids’ eyes. Read on to learn how prolonged screen time can impact their vision, and why it’s important to limit their exposure.

Eye Strain Leading to Fatigue and Headaches

When children spend too much time looking at a screen up close, their eyes become strained and tired. One recent survey found that 9% of parents reported their kids experienced eye strain after two or more hours of screen time. Over time, excessive eye strain can lead to other symptoms like blurry vision, neck pain, and regular headaches. This phenomenon is commonly known as Computer Vision Syndrome. And, even though these symptoms are mostly temporary, they can have prolonged impacts on your child’s vision and overall health in the future.

Retinal Damage and Vision Impairment

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Screen time in the evening interferes with the body’s natural sleep patterns, which may affect your child’s quality of sleep.

Regular exposure to UV light is essential to kids’ overall health, including their eyes. However, more screen time typically correlates to less time outdoors. Research has shown that children who spend less time playing outside and more time on screens have increased levels of nearsightedness. As a result, there is an increased risk that the child will end up wearing prescription eyeglasses one day. In fact, another study from the UK found that the number of teenagers wearing prescription eyeglasses had almost doubled in the past few years, mainly due to increased screen time.

Moreover, long-term and excessive smartphone usage can also cause damage to the eye’s retina. This is because the blue light reflecting off of computers, TVs, and smart phones can damage the nerve cells behind the eye. Thus, leading to long-term vision impairment.

Dry, Irritated Eyes

When a child becomes absorbed in watching a screen, they often tend to blink less frequently. The eyes then become dry and irritated. Interestingly, the problem can become much worse for children who watch a screen that is positioned higher up for adult use.

Negative Impacts on Sleep

Blue light has been shown to directly interfere with the body’s circadian rhythms, or sleep patterns. In particular, screen time in the evening impacts a child’s quality of sleep, because their bodies shift into ‘daytime’ mode. The noise and excitement from video games or movies can also make it difficult for children to wind down at night.

Help Your Kids Adopt Healthy Habits

Limiting the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen is essential to their eye health. While some screen time is unavoidable these days, there are things you can do to reduce the stress on your kids’ eyes. These include placing the screen farther away from the child and reminding them to blink regularly. Also, make sure they follow the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes of screen time, encourage them to take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away.

If you are looking for some fun alternatives to screen time, check out our blog! And, for more tips about protecting your kids’ eye health, schedule a pediatric eye exam at Looking Glass Optical. We are happy to help.