Doctors encourage adults to get their children’s eyesight checked at least once a year. The number of teenagers who need glasses has doubled in the last decade. They say an increase in screen time is causing poor eyesight in children aged 13 to 16.
New research from the UK based eyesight care company, Scrivens Opticians tells us the eyesight of teenagers is weakening. Their hypothesis says it is because of too many hours in front of a computer or phone screen.
Excessive exposure to phone screens is too much visual stimulation for the eyes of a teenager and can cause issues like blurred vision, shortsightedness, and a strain on the eyes.
Around 35% of teenagers between the age of 13 and 16 need glasses in 2018, which is a 20% increase since 2012. Of these teenagers, two-thirds are also shortsighted, according to the study.
Up to 26 hours are spent in front of the screen by children int the United Kingdom.
Sheena Mangat, a Scrivens optometrist, claims that the eyes of children are subject to change until early adulthood. It is hard to see the signs of weakening eyesight; hence, regular checkups are essential.
The effect excessive screen time has on eyesight
With the recent Netflix epidemic, work use, and even partial school use, screens have become a cultural necessity.
A few decades ago, children weren’t allowed to sit too close to the box television, but in the present, the scenario is very different.
Optometrist and member of the Eyesafe Vision Health Advisory Board, Dr. Paul Karpecki, says that cases of glaucoma and myopic retinal degeneration are far too common now. The increase in screen time is what has caused a rise in these cases, especially examples in young people. Before, these issues were faced by the elderly only.
The children of today expose themselves to screens for most of their lives. At a young age, the eyes are sensitive, and hence, screen time has a more detrimental effect.
Another optometrist, Dr. Ryan Parker, is exploring why exposure to screen light at an early age has long term effects.
Dr. Parker evaluates that blue light affects the retina negatively. Being exposed to such light indoors leads to myopia progression. The increased exposure to blue light indoors plus constant exposure to the sunlight outdoors can have a diminishing effect on eyesight.
Furthermore, results also show that too much screen time affects patterns of sleep and cognitive development as well.
What can parents do?
The Scrivens’ research showed that 73% of parents find it tough to stop their children from using their phones or computers.
25% of parents have never gotten the eyesight of their children checked.
The American Optometric Association provides a helpful tip that every 20 minutes, children should take a 20-second break from their screens and look at something 20 feet away. Known as the 20-20-20 rule, it gives the eyes some rest.
Specific settings on technology can also help, such as light controls or night time lighting to prevent too much light going into the eyes.