These days, you’re just as likely to see kids playing with devices with screens as dolls, toy cars, and the like. As technology and the use of social media continue to rise, there has been a drastic increase in the use of smartphones, tablets, and other devices with screens amongst American children. And although kids may be entertained with games or learning new things through educational apps, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has linked numerous childhood vision problems to prolonged screen exposure. Here’s a closer look at the potential effects on your child’s eye health from the team at Cohen’s Fashion Optical.
Researchers are finding that a record number of children are developing nearsightedness, and overexposure to screened devices could be to blame. Over the last 40 years, the frequency of cases of nearsightedness has risen by 42% in the United States alone, while in Asia, up to 90% of the population has developed the condition.
A study in the AAO’s journal, Ophthalmology, examined 1,958 children between the ages of seven and twelve to determine whether a link exists between close-up visual activities – i.e. screen use – and nearsightedness, also known as incident myopia. The results showed that 26.8% were already living with nearsightedness, while another 27.7% developed incident myopia over three years. And many fear that these rates are only going to increase at a more rapid pace, raising concerns about a public health epidemic in progress.
When children spend too much time on screens, the blue light emitted can put a strain on the eyes and cause a host of problems. That’s because when playing games, browsing the web, or texting their friends, children don’t give their eyes enough breaks and can sometimes go for hours before looking away. Though these symptoms are often temporary and not linked to structural eye damage, they are troublesome, to say the least. Common eyestrain concerns include:
- Eye fatigue
- Dry, irritated, and red eyes
- Crossing of the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Decreased ability to focus clearly
The blue light from screens has also been linked to children having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking feeling rested. That’s because when screens are used too close to bedtime, the eyes and the brain’s circadian rhythm are both disrupted, making the body believe that it’s still bright enough outside to stay awake. As getting enough sleep is a crucial aspect of healthy eye development and overall well-being, this side effect is not to be ignored.
Hindered Eye Development
Speaking of eye development, studies have also shown that too much screen time may be reducing outdoor play. Aside from potentially gaining weight and becoming physically inactive, children who opt to play on their screens indoors instead of playing outside are not being exposed to enough ultraviolet (UV) light. This is another essential element of healthy eye development in children and could lead to additional consequences to their eyes down the road.
Schedule an Eye Exam
Parents and children alike must take the necessary steps to limit screen use. For advice on breaking the habit of spending too much time on devices, trust Cohen’s Fashion Optical. Our on-site eye doctors will monitor the eye health of your entire family, help you examine options for computer eyeglasses, and recommend a prescription if necessary. You’ll also enjoy browsing our selection of over 20 of the top designer eyewear brands loved around the world. For more information, contact us today.