Too much screen time is a huge worry among parents, but should you really be concerned? Children ages 8-10 spend approximately six hours per day in front of a computer, tablet, cell phone, or other electronic devices. More and more research shows that this increased use of digital devices could hurt children’s eyesight
Myopia also known as nearsightedness, is increasing at a rapid rate among American children. In the United States alone, there are 14 million children diagnosed with nearsightedness and that number is only increasing In fact, The National Eye Institute warns that 39 million Americans may be nearsighted by the year 2030. The current trend of increasing screen time among children is a contributing factor, as there is a growing concern about the potential long-term effects on children’s visual development due to electronic and digital devices.
Ophthalmologists are seeing a significant increase in children with dry eye and eye strain from all the extra screen time. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has even more evidence that at least part of the global increase in myopia is related to work activities such as looking at screens.
Myopia & Blue Light
So how is screen time impacting vision? The answer may be the ‘blue light’ that comes from these devices. Unlike sunlight which contains red, orange, yellow, green, and blue rays, these electronic devices emit “blue light”, a high-energy visible light with shorter wavelengths. And while blue light is present naturally in sunlight, we are exposed to it in higher amounts from tablets, smartphones, and TVs. Blue light from computer screens, cell phones, and iPads also lead to digital eye strain. Many eye doctors are concerned that the additional exposure to blue light from computers and digital devices may increase a person’s risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration later in life
Cell phones and screen time use, in general, are here to stay. With myopia rates continuing to rise, it’s important to protect our children from the effects of blue light and to protect their vision and overall health by practicing better vision habits
Of course, don’t forget regular eye exams with an optometrist in order to detect any vision problems before they get out of hand, and to ensure your child’s continued eye health.