As Screen Time Goes up After the Holidays, Here’s How to Protect Your Child’s Eyes
As children enjoy their new digital devices, here’s how to protect their eyes from visual strain and overexposure to blue light.
It’s 2020, and children are spending more and more time on their digital devices. In fact, a study from Common Sense Media has shown that children under the age of eight typically spend more than two hours every day with online media, while eight- to 10-year-olds spend up to six hours a day staring at digital screens.
If your child is spending a lot of time using their digital toys or devices, you should consider how this might affect their eye health. From causing general eye strain to exposing children to too much blue light, digital screens can have a negative impact on eye health. Accordingly, parents and guardians should understand the risks kids face from unregulated screen time — especially from new devices after the holidays — and what options are available to preserve their children’s vision.
The Risks Posed by Too Much Screen Time
Spending hours and hours staring at digital devices can lead to potentially serious eye problems. For instance, too much screen time can cause digital eye strain. Symptoms of digital eye strain include changes in vision, tired eyes, headaches, and even fatigue.
Additionally, staring at digital screens for too long can expose children to possibly dangerous levels of blue light. Blue light is a component of the white light we see, and it’s made up of its own type of wavelengths and energy. While most of the blue light we’re exposed to comes from natural sunlight, screens also emit it at low levels. These low levels, on their own, aren’t enough to cause damage, but prolonged exposure to digital screens can nevertheless be problematic. Studies have even linked blue light to conditions like myopia (nearsightedness) and macular degeneration later in life.
How to Protect Your Child’s Eyes
While you likely can’t keep your children away from all digital devices, it is possible to establish rules that can help prevent them from experiencing the worst effects of overexposure. For example, parents and guardians can teach their children about the 20-20-20 rule, which calls for looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes spent on a digital device.
Beyond that, there are steps that you can take to limit the amount of blue light that children are exposed to. If your child needs glasses, for instance, you can ask your eye care specialist about lenses that block blue light and reduce overall eye strain. Depending on the devices your kids are using, you can also put special filters over their screens. These filters reduce the amount of blue light that hits and — over time — damages the retina.
How Eyecare Experts Can Help
In addition to these preventative measures, it’s also critical that parents and guardians remember to schedule annual eye exams for their children. By checking in regularly with eye care professionals — such as the trained specialists at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Care Centers of Texas — you can stay ahead of the curve and treat any potential problems before they become urgent issues.
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