In today’s digital world, we are more connected to screens than ever. But this trend isn’t just affecting adults; it’s affecting children too. Today’s children are spending more time looking at screens on phones, computers, TVs and tablets, and as a result, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development.
In both children and adults, we are currently in the middle of a world-wide epidemic of myopia, or nearsightedness. According to Science Daily, since 1971, the incidence of nearsightedness in the US nearly doubled, to 42 percent, and this number is even higher in the continent of Asia, where up to 90 percent of teenagers and adults are nearsighted.
And it may be that increased screen time is to blame. A study that appeared in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provided evidence that at least part of the worldwide increase in nearsightedness has traditional work activities, including use of screens, but also reading from books. This means that students are especially susceptible to digital eyestrain that causes nearsightedness.
In addition, there is data from ophthalmologists, that they are seeing a significant increase in children with dry eye and eye strain from too much screen time, which can again negatively impact visual development in children
According to the study, it remains unclear whether the rise in nearsightedness is due to focusing on phones all the time, or to light interacting with our circadian rhythms to influence eye growth, or none of the above. But the correlated increase in nearsightedness, as well as increased use of screens and technology is clear.
So what can be done to counteract this epidemic and help to improve eye health early on? For children, the study also postulated that spending more time outdoors, especially in early childhood, can help prime and counteract this increased screen time in later childhood and adolescence, and can slow the progression of nearsightedness.
If your child, or you, are experiencing dry eye, eye strain, headaches, and blurry vision, then too much screen time may be to blame. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or your child, then take measured steps to reduce screen time, and spend more time outdoors. In addition, you and your child should make changes to your computer habits, and make time for breaks frequently – at least every 20-30 minutes.This habit is helpful because when we are using screens, we don’t blink as often, and this can also happen we we’re doing extended reading, writing or studying that can also cause eye strain. You can encourage these habits with the use of timers, or other pre-set systems to reinforce time limits. This can also help facilitate better health habits – like encouraging stretch or activity breaks that will help with circulation.
In many cases, a prescription for computer glasses to help counteract blue light can also be a solution, or reevaluating your current eye health for any changes in vision. New reading glasses or computer glasses from a company that specializes in them like Firmoo can help provide some comfort and prevention for future issues due to eye strain. There are many options for glasses for you to choose from that can help ease this problem.
It’s not likely that our culture’s use of technology and its prevalence will decrease anytime soon. Actually, we can expect screen use to continue to rise and technology becomes more advanced, and the need to physically write continues to decrease. But if you take these preventative actions, you can help instill healthy screen habits in your family before any major health issues or bad habits get the chance to take hold.