Parents often tell me they’re worried how much time their children spend on digital devices and if it’s damaging to their sight. So, what are the facts about digital screen time and how can you help keep your child’s eyes healthy?
Can screen time damage my child’s eyes?
There is currently no scientific evidence that the low level of blue light emitted by digital screens causes damage to the eyes. However, prolonged use of laptops, tablets and mobile phones has been shown to cause “digital eye strain”. Symptoms to look out for include headaches, blurred vision and tired eyes. There is also strong evidence that blue light can interfere with children’s sleep patterns.
Tip: Make sure all digital devices are turned off at least an hour before bedtime. And use night settings if your device has them.
Is there a link between screen time and short-sight?
Short-sightedness, or myopia, is on the increase worldwide. Family history, ethnic background, environment and carrying out near tasks have all been linked to the development of myopia. However, there is no clear evidence to suggest that screen time alone is a direct cause. But, there is good evidence that children who spend more time outdoors are at a lower risk of developing short-sightedness.
Tip: Get your children outdoors. Studies show two hours of outdoor activity a day is ideal.
Are my child’s eyes ready for school?
Research shows that as many as one in five children attend school with an undiagnosed eye problem. This can affect their performance in the classroom, as well as other activities like sports, reading and computer games. While some children report headaches or eyestrain, many show no obvious signs and aren’t aware they have a problem. It’s especially important to have your child’s eyes tested if there is a family history of problems like lazy eye, myopia, long-sightedness or astigmatism.
Tip: Book a “Back to School” eye test. Remember eye tests are free for children under the NHS.