There is no avoiding technology today. Children are exposed to smartphones at a young age, even if they may not have one until their teenage years. If not cell phones, children are exposed to screens via television, computers, and portable DVD players. What is more, pediatric screen exposure has been increasing over time and this trend is predicted to continue.
As a parent, if you are concerned about the effect of excessive screen time upon your child’s vision, you may want to consult a pediatric eye doctor. Your doctor can also collaborate on how best to your child’s eyes both now and in the future.
What Should I Be Aware of Regarding Screen Time?
If your child is using devices, you are not alone. 9 out of 10 children are exposed to more screen time than recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendation was no screen time for children under the age of two and limit screen time for children over two to two hours per day.
As our media culture has evolved, so have the recommendations from pediatricians with screentime. There is no longer a set rule for the amount of screen time. Instead, parents are encouraged to use devices responsibly, which includes:
- Using devices with screens for educational purposes
- Consider the health and developmental impact on the child
- Model responsible media behavior
- Use media with the child
- Set appropriate limits for media use
Even with responsible use, sometimes screen time can impact the vision of children. The rates of myopia (nearsightedness) have increased in recent years and time on devices can be a contributing factor.
What are Common Concerns Pediatric Eye Doctors Want You to Know?
There are other common conditions pediatric eye doctors see due to screen time.
There is a condition called “computer vision syndrome,” also known as digital eye strain. It is defined by excess stress on the eyes caused by digital screen time. Symptoms of digital eye strain include:
- Dry eyes
- Fluctuating vision
- Tired eyes
- Neck, back, or shoulder pain
What helps with digital eye strain? Pediatric eye doctors recommend blue light glasses even for children as they may provide relief from vision strain.
As mentioned, myopia is increasing in recent decades. Pediatric eye doctors agree that screen time influences the condition. Regular eye exams and prescription glasses may be necessary to address myopia.
There is concern that blue-light exposure may have a long-term impact on vision, including macular degeneration, a disorder causing blurry vision later in life. In addition to blue-light glasses, parents can take the following steps:
- Encourage frequent screen time breaks. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds
- Plan media free activities and time together as a family. Use this for positive family interaction and keep screens away.
- Schedule an annual eye exam to have your child’s eyes evaluated. Be sure to discuss screentime with your pediatric eye doctor at the exam.
How Do I Find a Child Ophthalmologist Near Me?
You may now be ready to find a child ophthalmologist. Whether for preventative care or to address concerns with your child’s eyesight, finding the right ophthalmologist is important.
Pediatric Eye Associates are a team of board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmologists in New Jersey. Our doctors, Dr. Amy Lambert, MD, and Dr. Rachel Bloom, MD, are fantastic, and we know kids! We are experts in pediatric eye disorders and are here to help.
Contact us with questions or for a consultation. We are thrilled to partner with you and your child!
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.