As it is currently the school holiday period, we thought it would be apt to discuss the issues surrounding the overuse of technology and childhood eyesight problems.
Concerns have been raised about the effect that smartphones and computer devices are having on our children’s long-term vision and their development in general, with a growing amount of scientific evidence supporting a harmful link.
Here are the eye issues you need to know about, and the steps you can take to prevent them occurring.
Over the last few years, smartphone usage has boomed amongst adults and children. Research shows that 66% of kids in America now own a smartphone, and Britain is likely to be little different.
While technology has the ability to add value to our lives, it can also have a number of health implications if we do not take care to limit the time we spend on these devices. This has led to technology moguls like Bill Gates revealing that he set a minimum age of 14 for his children to own a smartphone.
Too much screen time can cause digital eye strain, which has the following symptoms:
- itchy or tired eyes
- red eye tissue
- dry eyes
In addition, a major problem is eye damage produced by the blue light that is emitted from these devices. This results in the death of retinal cells and has the potential to age the eyes sooner, leading to sight loss in younger people.
A further worrying factor is the de-socialisation that takes place when using computers or smartphones. It is all too easy for children to spend hours on these products and ignore playing outside instead. More outdoor play has been linked with better eyesight and less chance of shortsightedness developing.
What You Can Do
In order to avoid these complications, it is essential to limit the screen time your children are allowed. The easiest way to achieve this is simply by not buying them their own digital devices until a later age. If their pleas become too much to bear, loan them yours for a limited time period instead!
Regular breaks can also help to give the eyes a rest. The ‘20-20-20‘ rule is a good one to follow. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and look at something 20 feet away. This helps to refocus vision and reduce the chances of digital eye strain.
Encourage your children to spend more time outside with their friends and reap the benefits of sunlight. As already discussed, this boosts eye development and reduces myopia. There is also evidence to suggest that exercise plays a role in enhancing eyesight during childhood. A good side effect of more physical exertion is increased appetite and less snacking, giving you a chance to fill their diet with beneficial foods like carrots, fresh greens, and salmon – which have all been shown to protect the eyes.
Importance Of Eye Examinations
Growing children should ideally have an eye examination on an annual basis. This will help to ensure that problems are spotted at an early stage and any unhelpful behaviours are identified. Regular visits to an optician will also hopefully instil the importance of eye health in a child’s mind, making them more pro-active in thinking about their own eyesight.
At AVC we have a wide optometrist network of over 400 locations, meaning we can recommend expert eye professionals in your area. Get in touch for more details.