These days technology rules but have you ever consider the effects of technology on children’s eyes? We live in a world where using computers and digital devices is unavoidable and that is especially true for the younger generation of children and teenagers who use digital devices to learn, play and be entertained more so than any generation before. Throughout schools, and even some kindergartens, computers and ipads have been introduced as part of the curriculum.
The main advantage of this is that information is available at our fingertips. One of the disadvantages of this is that this increased time in front of a screen is progressively causing the younger generations to become myopic or shortsighted, a condition that requires vision correction in order to clearly into the distance.
Generally, our eyes work best when looking at something in the distance and the closer the object is (like a ipad screen), the harder our eyes have to work to focus. Over time, this effort can add up and contribute to myopia. Recent studies have shown:
- Myopia can occur as a result of eye strain at the reading distance, especially with prolonged concentration.
- Less daily outdoor activites in natural light can contribute to myopia. Being outdoors allows the eyes a break from the computer screen and forces the eyes to focus on objects in the distance rather than up close.
- Myopia develops faster when it develops in children of younger ages.
- Early onset of myopia in children is associated with more severe myopia as an adult as the condition progresses.
So given that computer and digital device use is pretty much unavoidable and is now part of most children’s daily lives, how can we minimise the risk of your child developing myopia?
- Have your child’s vision checked. Your child should have their vision checked prior to starting school and every year thereafter.
- Wear your glasses. If your child wear’s glasses make sure they wear them when using a digitial screen
- Check the lighting. Ensure there is enough light in the room to read. Also try to reduce glare off the screen from sunlight.
- 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes, make sure your child takes a 20-second break to stare at something 20 feet away. This gives the eyes time to ‘refresh’ after focusing on objects up close.
- Play outside. Spend equal amounts of time outdoors and indoors. Research shows that two hours a day of outdoor play can help prevent myopia.
- Limit use. Try to limit your child’s use of digital devices to under two hours a day.
Follow these guidelines to limit the effects of technology on children’s eyes.