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5 Top Ways To Prevent Kids Eye Damage, Strain and Myopia From Digial Screens

The way kids look at screens, whether on a computer or smartphone or tablet, can have a huge impact on their eyesight.

If you're thinking your kids have been looking at screens more than ever, you're right.

Overall, the pandemic triggered a rise in the use of electronic devices among American children under 13 and teenagers with screentime now double that of what it used to be across all age groups. Statista, a company that follows trends online told us this fact in May 2021- Check out this graph showing the comparison of How Much Time Kids Were On Devices Before and During the Pandemic.

kids use MORE and too much screens

Looking At Screens Can Hurt Kids Eyes Causing Digital Eye Strain And Vision Problems

  • Myopia

    Myopia is serious.   Myopia which most people call nearsightedness, is when distant objects appear blurred while close objects appear nice and clear.  It's not a disease, it's a light focusing issue and it needs to get corrected.

    For kids, this means the white board at school can look blurry and so can the other side of the playground.  Science has discovered that in addition to genetics, kids who look at their devices up close for long periods of time are more likely to develop Mypoia

kids eye strain and avoid

 

  • Digital Eye Strain

  Staring at a screen can cause eyes to become tired, itchy and red.  Kids can also experience headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes from too much time on their devices. Kids eyes are supposed to blink up to 15 times a minute, but that's cut in half when kids stare at the screen.  Digital Eye Strain can even cause neck and shoulder pain.

Read on for all the details on Myopia and Digital Eye Strain, but first here's how to make sure your kids are protected from the damage and pain that staring at screens can cause.

So, Here They Are: The Five Top Ways To Help Kids Avoid Digital Eye Strain And Myopia

1. Keep Kids close up or Near Work Screen Time to no more than two hours each day

2. Get Kids Outside To Play, Exercise or Enjoy the Daylight.

3. Get A Timer and Do the 20-20-2 Rule. Every 20 minutes have them look away from the screen and focus on something 20 feet away for just 20 seconds. 

4. Make Sure Your Child's Screen Isn't Too Close.  Computer screens should be an arms length away - this helps prevent the near-work issues discussed above.Adjust The Light. Keep the light level of the screen matching the light level of the room as much as possible.  The contrast of the screen light to background light can cause the strain.

5. Have Your Child Try Blue Blocking Tinted Orange Glasses  They not only help prevent the blue light effects on their sleep and their mood but also help relax their eyes and prevent digital glare.

Screens And Myopia

“We know that focusing up close and not being outside has increased the rate of myopia,” Julia A. Haller, the ophthalmologist-in-chief at Philadelphia’s Wills Eye Hospital, told the Wall Street Journal recently.

What is Myopia And Why You Want To Help Your Kids Avoid it.

Myopia is serious.   Myopia which most people call nearsightedness, is when distant objects appear blurred while close objects appear nice and clear.  It's not a disease, it's a light focusing issue and it needs to get corrected.

For kids, this means the white board at school can look blurry and so can the other side of the playground.  Look for these symptoms:

  • headaches
  • eyestrain
  • squinting to see properly
  • or they might even tell you they can't see words on a picture when it's far away

The American Academy of Ophthalmology says there's no best method for correcting Myopia. Here are some of the options

  • Contacts or Glasses
  • Refractive surgery, like LASIK
  • Hard contacts in process to flatten the Cornea
  • Low Dose Atropine to slow progression of Myopia

The Too Much Screen Time and Myopia Connection

Lot's of doctors saw the staring at at screens eye and eye problems coming, my ophthalmologist showed me how focusing up close or near-work as most researchers call it,  changes the way our eyes move.  It was intense to watch and kind of painful to do, but I show you how it works in this video:   

Parents. Try it and you'll notice how it feels. Try the "near work" exercise- using a book or a phone or get up close to the computer and stare like your kids do.  When you really concentrate on how your eyes feel you'll notice that when the eyes go from a comfortable distance of say a foot or two from what they're gazing at- to the close up a near work stare, the eye muscles have to work.  This eye work that kids are doing more and more as they stare at their devices is called 'accommodation'.

Clinical journals say eye accommodation is actually a change in the shape of your child's eye lens resulting from the action of the cilia muscle on the annular fibers. To put it in simpler language, your child could be moving towards having the appearance "crossed-eyes." (check the video above to see what it looks like)

This whole process of staring and looking at things close up and the eyes doing the eye accommodation is correlated to myopia, but scientists still aren't sure exactly how or why or how to correct myopia.

It's important to note that  even though the tendency to develop myopia can be genetic, whether or not you actually develop it can be affected by how you use your eyes.

The latest study shows that kids who spent considerable time reading, working at a computer, or doing other intense, close visual work, were likely to develop myopia.

The study followed 2,000 seven to twelve year olds over a four year period looking at how kids spent time reading, doing school work and working or playing games on computers. They found that just over 27% of the kids in the study became nearsighted.

Why Did Over a Quarter Of The Kids Develop Myopia Over The 4 Year Study Period?

Well the study concluded that kids were more likely to get myopia if their schedules included two or more hours of cram schooling or coaching. Cram schools are basically intense prep schools where kids are in school longer and doing more work so they can get ahead and train for higher levels of academic excellence.

Genetics, Higher Education, Urbanization,  Near Work and Myopia



While the exact cause of myopia isn’t clear, there is significant evidence that a big factor might be genetics   A study of 31,677 participants revealed that if parents have myopia, there’s a significant positive association that their child will develop myopia and it’s even more so for kids who have two parents with myopia.

And research has shown that higher levels of education and urbanization have both been associated with people with myopia.



  It's important to note that  even though the tendency to develop myopia can be genetic, whether or not you actually develop it could be affected by

Report After Report, The Verdict Is In: Being Outside Helps Prevent Myopia

Send your kids outdoors and you can lower their chances of getting Myopia. It could be the bright natural sky or it could be that kids eyes get to focus naturally on things close and far away or it could be Vitamin D. The good news is results from seven studies were pooled in a meta-analysis that concluded  that kids who spend more time indoors are more likely to develop myopia.

Screens And Digital Eye Strain

Just thinking about looking at a brightly lit computer, can make  your eyes hurt- right. No one would say it felt "good" to stare at a bright sunlit blue horizon for 2 hours straight.  In the same way, our eyes weren't meant to stare at a blue light filled screen all day.

headaches screen computer

But that's what our kids do when their un-protected eyes fix on the bright digital screen.  And it's not just that it's filled  with blue light, it also powered by LED light is pulsating or flickering-making it hard on our physiology as well. The digital blue light combination of high amounts of energy and short wavelengths, make our eyes struggle to focus as the blue light scatters.

Eye strain can cause our kids to get

  • headaches
  • brain fog
  • itchy or painful eyes
  • Tired or red eyes

Our eyes use muscles and like any other muscles in our body, they can get tired from over-use. Staring at computers, smart phones and tablets, plays a major part in your eye exhaustion. Kids blink less when they're staring at their screens.  Scientists say on average we're all supposed to blink around 15 times per minute—but “blink rate”  can go to 7 times a minute when a child is concentrating and focusing-doing the near work we talked about earlier.

The Vision Council reports that Americans are experiencing these Digital Eye Strain Symptoms

  • 32.4% report experiencing eye strain

  • 27.2% report experiencing dry eyes

  • 27.7% report experiencing headaches

  • 27.9% report experiencing blurred vision

  • 35% report experiencing neck and shoulder pain

 The number one way to avoid eye strain to encourage your kids to take frequent breaks from the computer, the screen- whatever device they're staring at. 

Time Timers For kids

Our Collection Of Mindful Tech Timers Make It Easy To Remember To Take A Screen Break Every 20 Minutes To Look 20' Away For 20 Seconds.

Also, make sure your kids are the proper distance from the screen, no closer than an arms length.  You can also help your child's eye's relax by adjusting the light in the room to the match the light of the screen.  Also tinted glasses can soften the light of the screen.  Many of the popular Blue Blocking glasses have an orange or amber tint that can soften the brightness.

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