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How Excessive Screen Time Affects Your Child’s Eyes

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These days, children are constantly exposed to gadgets – smartphones, iPads, laptops, desktops and TVs. In many cases, they spend more time using them than playing outside with their friends. While these gadgets are a good source of entertainment and can even help make learning fun for children, excessive screen time can also lead to eye problems.

 

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Dr. Norman Fajardo, Asian Eye Institute’s Pediatric Ophthalmologist and Cataract and Adult Strabismus Specialist, shares that the most common eye problem children may experience is digital eyestrain. “Eyestrain happens when the eyes get tired from intense use. Children may experience blurred or double vision, headaches, and even head or neck pain.”

 

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He further explains, “The longer they stare at a computer screen, the higher the chances of experiencing eyestrain. They also tend to focus on the screen and blink less.” He explains that blinking less can lead to dry eyes, wherein the eye does not produce tears properly. Tears are important because they nourish and protect the eye surface from dust, infection or irritation. “A patient with dry eyes can experience a burning sensation, sandy feeling, excessive tearing, pain and redness of the eye.”

 

The general rule is that watching TV and using other gadgets should be avoided for infants and children under 2 years old. The brain develops rapidly during the child’s first years and interacting with people helps them develop their language and social skills. Older children and teens are recommended only 1 to 2 hours of screen time a day.

 

Dr. Fajardo urges parents to always be involved. If their children are already gadget users, he offers these tips to parents:

  • Take frequent breaks. Encourage children to take 20-second breaks from using gadgets every 20 minutes.
  • Adjust lighting. Too much artificial or natural light can cause glare that can easily tire the eyes. Match the lighting of the room to the screen and make sure that light sources are not behind or in front of the screen.
  • Have their eyes checked. Children rarely complain because they assume that whatever vision they have is normal. Eye exams can help you monitor their eye condition and detect eye problems early enough to save their vision.

 

Aside from eye problems, excessive screen time comes with a host of other problems like obesity, behavioral problems and even the loss of social skills. “Keep your children’s screen consumption in check to ensure they have a balanced lifestyle. It can be quite a challenge, but it is doable.”

 

“The key here is for parents to spend more time with their children. It can help if they establish screen times rules like how long or on what days they can use their gadgets, and encourage them to engage in active play or in other activities. This will enable them to learn, gain experiences and boost their social skills,” he says.

 

 

Author: Charizze Henson
Contributor: Kareena Mirpuri, Asian Eye Institute

 

 

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