Screen Time and Eye Health for Children

September 17, 2019

Children in the United States are spending more time on tablets, smartphones, and other screened devices than ever before. In fact, a study featured in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s journal suggests that the increase in screen time has led to a rise in childhood nearsightedness. That’s why Cohen’s Fashion Optical is educating its patients on the dangers that too much screen time present for children’s eye health. Here’s a breakdown of the issue and what you can do to prevent further damage.

Consequences of Screen Exposure

First and foremost, it’s absolutely vital that parents understand the risks associated with their children spending too much time on their screens. With the popularity of games and educational apps, there’s a strong chance that your children are hooked to their devices – but there is plenty of convincing evidence why parents should break those habits as early as possible.

While they may be learning new words and skills with on-screen programs, the reality is simple – if they’re actively using a screen, they’re not being active outdoors. Multiple studies have concluded that the use of screens more than likely means children are not spending enough time outside, which can have a detrimental effect to their eye health. Regular exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a crucial aspect of eye development, and the amount of time children are spending on screens is causing record high numbers when it comes to cases of childhood nearsightedness.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only threat that screen time has to your child’s eye health. For one, research has linked screen overuse to sleep issues in children, as the blue light devices radiate tricks the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime – even late at night. Other concerns include:

  • Dry, irritated, and red eyes
  • Eye fatigue
  • Crossing of the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased ability to focus clearly
  • Headaches
  • Health issues from decreased physical activity

Preventative Measures for Parents

To protect your child’s eye health and prevent the vision issues associated with overexposure to screens, parents must educate their children on these dangers and help them form healthy habits. The “20-20-20” strategy of relieving strain on the eyes is one of the best rules to teach. Any time your children use a device, instruct them to take their eyes off the screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes, focusing on an object that is 20 feet away. It’s a wise rule for parents to follow, too. Other ways parents can reduce their child’s risk of developing preventable eye problems include:

  • Setting daily maximums on screen time, which our on-site optometrists recommend to limit to an hour a day for children ages 2-5 and no more than a few hours for ages 6 and up
  • Spending more time outdoors doing screen-free activities
  • Encouraging them to blink regularly while using devices to prevent dry eyes
  • Eliminating screen use before bed

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Aside from limiting the amount of time your children spend on their devices’ screens, the only way to ensure their vision is healthy is with regular eye exams at Cohen’s Fashion Optical. After your child’s eye exam, our eyewear specialists will help you choose the perfect pair of prescription glasses – if necessary – from our impressive selection consisting of over 20 of the top eyewear brands. For more information, schedule an appointment at Cohen’s Fashion Optical today.