Screen time. Did you know it affects your children's eyesight too?
14th February 2019
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Screen time.

It's awash in the news headlines on what seems like a weekly, if not daily, basis. We hear about it in relation to the detrimental effect it can have on our mental health - not just as adults but as children too.

Focusing specifically on children, there's also research to suggest that the amount of screen time our children are indulging in is partly responsible for what's being called an epidemic in myopia amongst the younger generation. 

What is myopia? And why should we be concerned about it?

Myopia quite simply is being short sighted. To correct myopia you need to wear glasses to counteract the damage to the eyes.

There are physiological changes that occur in an eye that becomes short-sighted - it actually becomes longer. The more the eye stretches, the more the retina which lines the inside of the eye, becomes thinner. This could then result in issues such as the abnormal development of subretinal blood vessels or cracks and bleeding could occur.

Myopia has been present in the population throughout history but the issue is that it's now reaching epidemic proportions. Three years ago a study in Ireland revealed that the number of children suffering from myopia has doubled from 7.2 per cent to 16.4 per cent in the past 50 years. 

Of course there are others factors in play when it comes to myopia - it's not all about screentime. Genetics plays a huge role (remember your Mum or Granny wearing those milk bottle glasses back in the 80s?!) but the fact remains that since smartphones became widely used from around 2007, myopia has been on the rise.

The technology means that when you're watching the small screen you do so at a distance of 20 cm rather than the normal reading distance of 45 cm to 50 cm. It's thought that this leads to the risks of developing myopia by as much as 8 times - especially if both of your parents are myopic. 

What can be done about it?

A few simple changes can make all the difference:

  • Limit screentime - recommendations are that for those under 2, screens shouldn't be used at all. For ages 2-5 it's just one hour a day. And as children get older it really is recommended to limit the use to just an hour a day, aside from the time they're requested to use it as part of their studies.
  • Take a break - remaining glued to a screen for hours on end is the definitely bad for your eyes. Aim to take a 20 minute break every half hour or so.
  • Put it down before bed - try to avoid screentime an hour before going to bed. This will help limit exposure to the blue light emitted from devices that has been shown to cause issues with sleep. 
  • Get outside - we know physical activity is good for our health. It's good for our eye health too. Try to be outdoors for at least 45 minutes every day.
  • See your optician regularly - getting your eyes tested is important. The overall health of your eyes will be given the once over, as well as your eyesight, and if there are any issues then they can be addressed early on. 
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About the Author

Cale

Member since: 22nd March 2018

Cale is the Owner of 'thebestofHastings', the award winning franchise, providing integrated marketing solutions to SMEs, connecting to the Hastings community and promoting local events in 1066 Country....

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