Have you ever worried about a cell phone hurting your children’s eyes? What about the electronic pads, tablets, or e-readers that are so incredibly popular today? For most people, the answer is probably not. We often worry about cell phone radiation and cancer risks. However, many of us don’t worry enough about the eye problems that can come with technology. But, from toddlers to teens, our children are straining their eyes to satisfy their hunger for electronics. This can result in some minor and major problems for their eyes and vision.
With the surge in sales of electronic devices, it’s obvious that many are ending up in the hands of children and teens. Often, children hold them in their laps for hours on end. This causes a minor condition called eye fatigue. In this condition, the muscles that support the eye get overworked and exhausted. You might notice your teen has bloodshot eyes or is rubbing their eyes a lot. Children can experience the same eye fatigue using these phones and tablets that adults experience when working in front of a computer screen.
The founder of Focus Clinics in London, eye surgeon David Allamby, has been researching the effect smartphones are having on our eyes. His research points to a 35 percent increase in the number of myopia cases since smartphones hit the market in 1997. It looks like we are just now seeing the long terms effects of using smartphones to the extent that we do.
Because of the potential harm electronic devices can have on our children’s eyes, we need to enforce breaks from their screens. Limit the amount of time your children spend playing games on devices. Teach them to hold the smartphone up at eye level and approximately 16 inches away from their face. By holding the smartphones in their lap, they will be holding the screen too close to their eyes and they will be straining their neck.
Teach children to take frequent breaks from the screen to relieve their eyestrain. For every 10 minutes they are using a device, they need to take a break by looking at an object at least 10 feet away for a minimum of 10 seconds. This is called the 10-10-10 Rule and is also beneficial for adults who work with screens. Also, you want to remind your children that they should be blinking often enough to keep their eyes moist. Consider taping a note to the side of their laptop screen reminding them to blink.
Chinese doctors in Guangzhou did a study to assess the effects of the pads and tablets on young children’s eyesight. The study was conducted on children from grades one and seven for one year. They found an increase in cases of myopia during that time from a range of possible causes. However, when compared to earlier studies on myopia in Chinese children, it’s clear that there are significantly more cases today than there were 10 years ago. This is likely attributed to the increase in screen time and near work children engage in.
With young children, you can make changes to their lifestyle without too much resistance. Consider adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet. A healthy diet can strengthen a child’s eyesight and slow the progress of any hereditary eye issues.
You should also get your little one in the habit of stretching their eyes. Eye exercises can be fun for kids if you turn them into games. For example, one exercise requires you to look at different objects in the distance. To make it fun, turn this exercise into a game of I Spy. Ask your child to find something out the window that is green, blue, and other colors. Pick colors and objects that are varying distances to get them using their eye muscles differently.
What if your youngster does not like your healthy choices? What if you find it difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals into their diet? Consider adding supplements. Check with your pediatrician to make sure the supplements you are considering are appropriate for your child. Ask what amount is the correct amount for your child’s age and size.
Teens, Technology & Eye Problems
Teens can be a bit more stubborn about limiting their electronic usage. Consider having a dark time in your house, a time period when no electronic devices can be used. It will not only give your teen’s eyes a rest but will allow them to be disconnected from their friends for a while. How can you do this without finding them scrolling under the blankets? Turn off the wireless internet and keep the password to yourself.
With social media and texting, some teens seem to never have a single quiet mental moment. This time will also allow your teen to be more socially active within your own family, which can be a stress reliever for everyone.
Many parents struggle with getting their teens to eat a healthy diet. With their increased independence comes a sense of authority over what they eat. Considering the extra eyestrain teens are experiencing from their electronic usage, a healthy diet is more necessary than ever.
We must ensure teens are getting the proper amounts of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that are essential for eye health. So, consider adding a vitamin supplement, like our Ocu-Plus Formula, to their diet.
Parents should watch out for warning signs of eye issues in their children. If they notice any of these issues, schedule an eye exam with their doctor. You’ll also likely want to limit their screen time further. Some of the warning signs to look out for are:
- headaches when using the devices
- rubbing their eyes excessively
- squinting when using the devices
- holding their devices extremely close
You can keep your child’s eyes healthy despite their increased access to screens. The implementation of eye vitamins, resting the eyes, and proper nutrition are simple ways to start. Eating well, taking screen breaks, and just getting outdoors is the best way forward to prevent eye problems caused by technology.