Eye health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, yet it is often overlooked. The advent of digital technology, while beneficial in many ways, has presented a new challenge for eye health, particularly among children. Eye doctor Irfan Jeeva has raised concerns about the impact of excessive screen time on children's eyesight, pointing to the increasing need for glasses among youngsters. This article explores this eye health issue, drawing from research, expert insights, and practical tips for mitigating the problem.
How Digital Devices Affect Children's Eyesight
According to Dr. Jeeva, digital devices such as phones, tablets, and televisions are a significant contributing factor to the deterioration of children's eyesight. A case study of a seven-year-old patient, Aishwarya, from Leeds, was highlighted as a potential example of the impact of screen time on eyesight. The prolonged exposure to the blue light emitted by screens can contribute to vision loss and various ocular symptoms such as eyestrain, ocular discomfort, dry eye, diplopia, and blurry vision. The increase in screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic due to online classes has also been associated with the appearance of asthenopic symptoms and eye strain.
Screen Time and Its Broader Impact
But it's not just eyesight that's affected by excessive screen time. Dr. Logan Winkelman, a counselor at TTUHSC, discusses how excessive screen time can negatively impact mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. She also highlights the physical problems such as neck and eye strain, and the disturbance to sleep caused by excessive screen time. On the cognitive front, a study by Sheri Madigan of the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute in Canada found that toddlers who spend too much time in front of screens may not develop as skilled at problem-solving, communication, and other skills needed for school as their peers who have less screen time.
Recommendations for Parents
Given these alarming findings, it's clear that parents need to be proactive in managing their children's screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should spend no more than two hours a day in front of a screen. While screen time can offer educational program and skill development, it's also associated with interference with sleep, reduced social interaction, attention problems, lower grades, reduced physical activity, and exposure to inappropriate content. Researchers found that children without screen time were better at reading human emotions.
Parents can minimize risks if screen time is child-appropriate, has educational content, and is viewed together with the child. It is recommended that parents should also turn off the television during mealtimes and one hour before bedtime. Other tips for limiting technology use include finding alternative forms of entertainment and setting a good example for children by limiting own screen time.
In conclusion, while digital devices have become an integral part of our lives, it's essential to manage their use to safeguard our children's health. By being mindful of screen time and taking proactive measures, parents can help ensure their children's eyesight and overall well-being are protected.