Most of us don’t go a day without using a digital screen, whether it’s at work on a computer, reading off a tablet or tending to our smartphone - and now younger and younger children's eyes are being exposed to digital screens, threatening their vision.
Tablets and phones have replaced the TV as a way of keeping children entertained. Recent figures, have even revealed that one in three toddlers use a gadget before they can even talk. Yet these devices could be having a significant impact on the health of young people. There’s no point demonising screen time altogether – it has its place for children of all ages, not to mention developmental benefits – but equally too much can risk their vision.
Like adults, children who spend hours in front of a computer have a greater risk of developing computer vision syndrome (CVS). Before the digital age, CVS mostly affected office workers who spent eight hours in front of a computer screen five times a week. However it’s no longer exclusive to office workers. Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, itchy or tired eyes, headaches, eye strain and dry eyes.
Treatment for CVS varies from person to person. If your child suffers with CVS, he or she may need to get prescription glasses specifically for computers or other screens. This will relieve the eye strain that comes with being focused on a screen for long periods of time. You could also try and change the way they look at the screen. For example, changing the angle or getting a glare filter can drastically change the amount of strain on your children's eyes.
Another potential problem of too much screen time is over-exposure to harmful blue light, which might increase a child’s risk of macular degeneration later in life. Prolonged computer use among children can also put them at risk of progressive myopia.
For these reasons, it’s important to set guidelines for your children when it comes to the amount of time they spend in front of a computer.
So how do you get screen addicts to break the habit and protect your children's eyes?
It’s all about teaching your child how to responsibly use screens without harming their eyes. It’s important for children to grow up with a good relationship to technology without abusing it. Therefore taking away their screens will only be met with strong backlash - moderation is key.
It’s also important to encourage your child to take a break from staring at the screen. The 20-20-20 rule is a great exercise for anyone who spends long periods of time in front of a digital device as it allows children’s eyes to readjust and refocus, reducing the strain. Every 20 minutes, encourage your child to take a 20 second break and focus on something at least 20 feet away.
As long as you’re educating your children about sensible usage, in the majority of cases, there won’t be a serious issue.
If you are interested in vision correction at Focus Clinics please call us on 0207 307 8250 to book a free consultation.