Envision Optical
Optometrist in QLD and NSW
Kids on their phones | Burleigh Waters Eye Docto

How Smartphone Use Can Affect Children’s Vision and Eye Health

February 6, 2022
|
Posted By: Envision Optical
Kids | Children's eye doctor in tweed heads

Everywhere we look, it seems that people are always on their smartphones, either texting, video chatting, surfing social media or watching videos. However, adults aren't the only ones who spend time on computers, tablets, smartphones and other digital devices.

Children, too, use smartphones and other devices more than ever before, whether for school, socialising or entertainment. Though technology has made many aspects of our lives more convenient, there can be lasting effects on our eye health, especially children's eye health. 

Excessive screen time can take a toll on children's eye health, eye comfort, and overall well-being. 

Let's Take a Look at the Numbers

According to a The University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSWS) study, overusing smartphones can result in visual impairment and ocular discomfort in children and young adults. Visual impairments may include blurred vision, low vision and myopia or nearsightedness. Ocular discomforts may include dry eyes, eyestrain, and sore eyes. 

This UNSWS study also states 68 per cent of Australian children aged 3–17 years own smartphones, and children aged 5–7 years exceed the WHO guidelines of two hours per day by more than 100 per cent. 

Another study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research stated that extended smartphone use might increase children's likelihood of eye health issues, including myopia (nearsightedness), asthenopia (eye strain), and ocular surface disease. A viable solution for preventing or managing these concerns is regulating and restricting prolonged smartphone use. 

Digital Screen Overuse and Related Eye Health Concerns 

Overexposure to smartphones and extended screen use can affect one's eye health and function. Many of the following conditions can develop or worsen if a child continues extended use of digital screens, such as computers and smartphones:

Blurred Vision 

When children continuously use smartphones, they can experience blurred vision. Blurred vision is a loss of sharpness and can make objects appear hazy or out of focus.  

Low Vision 

Staring at a digital screen can lead to low vision in children. Low vision means limited sight and can include low night vision, blurred eyesight and blind spots. 

Myopia 

Myopia, or nearsightedness, makes objects in the distance look blurred, but close objects appear clearly. Signs of myopia can include headaches, eye strain, squinting and eye fatigue. 

Dry Eyes 

Dry eye disease (DED) is a common condition that can occur when one's tears are not providing adequate lubrication to moisturise the eyes. This can happen if a person doesn't produce enough tears or if they produce low-quality tears. Tear instability often leads to inflammation and can even damage the eye's surface. 

With DED, a person can experience a stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in the eyes; light sensitivity; eye redness; eye vision; blurred vision and more. 

Eye Strain 

Eye strain occurs when one's eyes experience fatigue from overuse, such as prolonged screen time, lack of sleep, inadequate eyewear prescriptions or prolonged driving. 

People with eye strain can experience sore, tired or burning eyes; watery or dry eyes; blurred vision; double vision; sore neck and shoulders; light sensitivity; headaches; and difficulty concentrating. 

Sore Eyes  

Eye strain, or eye fatigue, can occur from staring at digital devices for an extended period of time. Signs of eye strain are achy, tired, burning, itchy, dry or watery eyes. 

How to Protect Children's Eye Health and Vision 

The amount of screen time has inevitably increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic––not only for at-home education and digitally connecting students but also for entertainment and personal interactions. 

Though it's understandable many of our children and teens may not be able to complete their studies without using technology, children and young adults must limit their screen time to protect their eye health. 

Here are some ways you and your children can take preventive measures to help protect your eyes from smartphones and computer screens.  

  • Take an eye break every twenty minutes to give your eyes a rest. 
  • Use artificial tears to moisturise the eyes. 
  • Adjust screen settings to limit harsh light emissions. 
  • Use night mode, as it's not as harsh on one's vision. 
  • Keep a reasonable distance. 
  • Don't forget to blink to avoid dry eyes and discomfort. 
  • Use anti-reflective screen protectors.
  • Wear eyewear that reduces the effects of blue light.
  • Last but not least, it is highly recommended that your child gets routine eye health and vision exams. 

The Importance of Routine Eye Health and Vision Exams 

Routine eye health and vision exams allow your ophthalmologist to evaluate your eye health and ensure your eyes are healthy. When you come in for an appointment, we perform a thorough evaluation of your child's eyes, including checking for any concerns, such as diseases or vision changes. We can also help alleviate eye discomfort and determine if you require special eyewear, corrective lenses and other treatment options. 

Your eye doctor can help you and your family prevent or manage eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, detached retinas and more. We can also detect other major health concerns by examining the eyes, including hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and cancer. 

Are You Ready to Book Your Child's Eye Exam on the Gold Coast?

At Envision Optical in Tweed Heads and Burleigh Waters, Andrew Bowden and our team want what's best for your child's health, including their eyes. If you would like to arrange your child's eye exam, please get in touch with us today