Whether your child is learning, playing games, watching videos, or reading on their digital device, they may be harming their vision. By spending so much time on their digital devices the blue light emanating from the screen can be affecting not only their eyes with digital eye strain but their sleep as well.
As technology transforms the way we live, those who will be impacted the most are our children. Parents and professionals are concerned with the impact these devices currently have on our children, and they want to find the best ways to manage the time spent using them in order to keep kids healthy and strong.
What is Blue Light?
Every color of visible light has a different wavelength and energy level. Colors like red, orange, and yellow have longer wavelengths and carry less energy than colors like blue and purple.
Because blue light carries higher energy, it can easily reach the retina at the back of the eye. Although some of the eye’s structures filter out harmful rays like ultraviolet light, they allow blue light to penetrate.
The sun, digital screens, LED and fluorescent lighting all emit blue light.
Too Much Screen Time Can Lead to Vision Issues
Blue light has more energy and scatters more freely than other light making it difficult to focus on it. As the scattered blue light rays enter the eye, they create visual “noise” that is believed to be partly responsible for digital eye strain symptoms such as watery eyes, headache, blurry vision, and dry eyes. The more time spent staring at screens, the higher the chance of developing eye strain symptoms.
Gazing at the same distance for an extended time can cause the eyes focus to spasm, which causes blurred vision. Another possible symptom that may occur when concentrating on a screen for an extended period of time is eye fatigue which can cause concentration problems and headaches.
Tips on Limiting Screen Time in Young Children
Encouraging children to engage in other activities is important to their health and development. Establishing positive media viewing habits will keep their visual, mental and physical health in check.
- Avoid digital media use in infants under 18 to 24 months of age.
- If you want to introduce digital media to your 18-24 month old, choose high-quality programming and make sure to use the media together with your child. Solo media use at this age should be avoided.
- For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour of high-quality programming per day.
- 20-20-20 rule: make sure your child takes a 20-second break every 20 minutes and views something 20 feet away.
- Avoid fast-paced programs and any violent content.
- Make sure to turn off screens (including television) and other devices when not in use.
- Refrain from using media as the primary method of calming your child. Although there are cases when media is a useful soothing strategy, doing so regularly can lead to problems with setting limits and can hinder a child’s emotional regulation.
- Make sure that one hour before bedtime, your child doesn’t use his or her digital device.
While your child uses a digital device, there are ways to protect their eyes from blue light.
- Purchase glasses with lenses that filter out the amount of blue light that enters the eyes from computers, e-tablets and smartphone screens.
- Get anti-reflective coating for the eyeglass lenses, as it blocks blue light.
- Purchase glasses with photochromic lenses. These are sun-sensitive lenses that block some blue light indoors and automatically block additional blue light from the sun.
Technology is the present and the future. By following these tips and measures, you’ll go a long way toward keeping your tech-savvy child seeing clearly and feeling healthy for many years to come.
At Corktown Eyecare, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 647-694-7600 or book an appointment online to see one of our Toronto eye doctors.
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