Studies show that the number of children between the ages of 13 and 16 who are being prescribed reading glasses has more than doubled in the past 10 years. One reason behind this rise in numbers is the huge increase in screen time among teens.
Experts now advise parents to have their children’s eyes checked at least once a year and urge them to restrict screen time for their children, while also making kids take more breaks from their electronic devices, as well as use light-filtering technologies.
Increased ocular stimulation has apparently resulted in a rise in eye strain, blurred vision, and shortsightedness among teens. In one study, researchers found that 35 percent of those aged 13 to 16 needed glasses in 2018, higher by 20 percent from the figures in 2012. Two-thirds of those children were diagnosed with nearsightedness. Most of these children spend in excess of 26 hours a week in front of an electronic screen device.
Ophthalmologists point out that children’s eyes continue to grow until early adulthood. Today’s children engage electronic devices for most of their lives, it is culturally inescapable and has become practically necessary for school and other work. Children also tend to hold screens closer to children’s sensitive eyes and the light from devices gets reflected right to the back of the eye. There is a range of wavelengths of light that is damaging to the retina, which most digital devices emit.
Moreover, because conditions such as short- or long-sightedness can happen gradually over time, neither children nor parents can see the signs, which is why regular eye checks are so important. We do not think twice about taking our kids to the (general practitioner) should they become ill or the dentist for regular checks but, arguably, an annual eye health examination is just as important. Researchers are still in the early stages of understanding the long-term effects of extended screen time on children.
Ophthalmologist recommend the 20-20-20 rule, which says human eyes need a 20-second break from screens every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. They also add that users should take a 15-minute break for every two hours spent on a device.