Children spend a lot of time staring at the screens on mobile devices like their parents’ smartphones and tablets. Meanwhile, teenagers may spend an average of up to seven hours a day between time spent on schoolwork, interacting on social media, watching TV, or playing video games. The increase in these activities has caused concern over what the risks are of too much screen time and how it may affect children and their vision.
Symptoms Related to Extended Screen Time
When kids are having fun during screen time, they may keep going even though their eyes may be bothering them. Staring at a screen for a long time with no breaks can lead to eye strain and symptoms such as:
- Blurry vision can occur when the child looks away from the screen. This is referred to as accommodation spasm, which is a temporary condition where the eyes’ focusing system temporarily locks up or spasms. It has been suggested that extended screen time may also lead to myopia (nearsightedness) based on the rising rates of this condition among children.
- Eye fatigue from concentrating on a screen for an extended period is a common problem with children. Their eye muscles get tired from continued use. This problem is worsened when screen devices are used in poorly lit areas, and children need to squint.
- Dry and irritated eyes are caused by decreased blinking. The condition is common when using computers because they are situated higher in a child’s visual field than a handheld device would be. This causes children to open their eyes wider, which speeds up the natural evaporation of the eyes’ moisture.
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Child’s Risks
Because young children are not likely to recognize the signs of eye strains, parents can help reduce the risks of eye damage by:
- Monitoring screen time and making sure that it is not interfering with your child’s sleep or physical activity time
- Reminding your child to blink often and take frequent breaks by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and getting up and walking around every hour for at least 10 minutes
- Adjusting room and screen lighting to reduce glare
- Encouraging proper placement of screen devices, e.g., keeping smartphone one foot from eyes or sitting 10 feet back from TV
Your child may not tell you that they are experiencing vision problems. For this reason, children need to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to catch eye problems related to screen time early.
Book an appointment for an eye exam with an eye doctor at Valley Eyecare Center today! Call us at 602-955-2700 or book your appointment online.