Children today seem to be spending more and more time with their eyes on a screen. From tablets to computers and phones, children have access to technology that adults would never have dreamed of years ago. Because children are using electronic devices on a regular basis, eye strain occurs as well as pain in the neck and back. Children become mesmerized by screens at an early age, and too much exposure can lead to several long-term health issues such as digital eye strain.
According to the American Eye-Q survey completed in 2015 by the American Optometric Association, 41% of parents stated that their children are using digital devices for three or more hours each day. 66% of those surveyed were found to own their tablet or smartphone, which essentially would mean more screen time.
Resulting Eye Problems
Too much time viewing the screen of the electronic device can lead to digital eye strain. Eyes become itchy, tired or burn. Children can suffer from double vision, loss of focus, fatigue, headaches, head/neck pain or blurred vision. Short term usage may cause eye strain, but you can take a break or wear proper eye wear to minimize eye strain.
The problem is that electronic devices give off short-wavelength blue and violet light. The light affects the vision and can cause premature aging within the eyes. Research shows that overexposure to such light can create discomfort and eyestrain. Overexposure can also lead to serious health conditions over time such as macular degeneration. This condition can lead to blindness.
The eyes of children have the ability to focus on close objects due to the natural lens of the eye being clearer and smaller. However, with blue light being quickly sent to the retina, damage can easily be caused over time. Exposure can lead to sleep patterns being interrupted, especially when screens are viewed before bedtime.
With toddlers, the child may still be trying to create a healthy sleep pattern. With overuse of digital devices, especially before bedtime, the child is unable to create a healthy sleep pattern.
Children’s eyes need to be protected. Subsequently, there is a rule that is suggested for digital tech usage, the 20-20-20 rule. Children should take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something that is around 20-feet away. Taking breaks is the best way for children to avoid damage to the eyes especially as they age.
Eye exams should also be provided each year from the ages of 5 to 13 to look out for any issues that may be caused by digital usage. If a problem is found early, corrections can be made that will ensure the eye health of your child in the future.
As the parent, you have the ability to control the screen time of your child. Consider purchasing a timer and setting it for time periods of usage. Teach your child that when the timer goes off, it’s time to take a break. This is an easy way to ensure that their screen time is interspersed, causing less digital eye strain. Contact us today to make an appointment for your child’s annual exam.