How Does Screen Time Make Children’s Eyes Worse? 

April 5, 2024

Ever wonder how much time your child is glued to their phone, tablet, or gaming device? Screens have become an undeniable part of our lives, and children are no exception. But with so much digital entertainment at their fingertips, it’s natural to wonder: how much screen time is too much for kids, and what impact does it have on our children’s development?

Why Is Staring At A Screen Bad For Kids?

While screens can offer educational opportunities and a window to the world, excessive screen time can put a strain on developing eyes. Unlike reading a book, screens emit a blue light that can contribute to eyestrain, headaches, and dry eyes from reduced blinking — leaving them feeling itchy and irritated. Even more concerning, excessive screen time in early childhood has been linked to an increased risk of myopia.

But what is myopia? Also known as shortsightedness, myopia occurs when the eyeball undergoes slight elongation, causing distant objects to appear blurry. While the exact cause is complex, increased screen time may contribute to this condition, potentially leading to the need to undergo kids’ eye exam for short-sightedness treatment like prescription glasses.

How Does Screen Time Affect Kids’ Vision?

Understanding these potential effects is crucial to establishing healthy screen time habits and steering clear of the need for short-sightedness treatment. Beyond the potential for myopia development, excessive screen time can impact your child’s vision in several ways:

Eye Strain. Focusing on close-up screens for extended periods puts a strain on the eye muscles, leading to discomfort, headaches, and blurred vision.

Dry Eyes. As children become engrossed in their screens, blinking naturally decreases — causing dry, irritated eyes. This can be especially problematic if your child already experiences dry eye issues.

Poor Sleep. The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder for children to fall asleep and stay asleep. This lack of quality sleep can further impact their vision, leading to fatigue and difficulty focusing.

Postural Issues. Slouching and poor posture while using screens can strain the neck and shoulders, potentially causing headaches and affecting overall visual comfort.

Delayed Visual Development. In younger children, excessive screen time can potentially interfere with their natural process of developing visual skills like depth perception and hand-eye coordination.

It’s important to note that these are potential risks, and individual experiences may vary. However, understanding the potential downsides of excessive screen time allows parents and caregivers to make informed decisions about how much screen time is appropriate for their children.

Tips to Reduce Children’s Risk of Short-sightedness and Dry Eyes From Screen Time

Knowing the potential downsides doesn’t mean demonising screens altogether. The key lies in striking a healthy balance. Here are some tips to help minimise the risks associated with excessive screen time and protect your child’s developing vision:

#1 Follow The 20-20-20 

Encourage frequent breaks. Every 20 minutes of screen time, have your child look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This allows their eyes to relax and refocus.

#2 Implement Screen Time Limits

Set specific limits on the amount of time children spend using screens each day such as less than 1 hour per day for older toddlers and preschoolers. This ensures they have ample time for other activities such as outdoor play, reading, and creative activities.

#3 Adjust Screen Settings

Reduce screen brightness and adjust the contrast for better viewing comfort. Utilise night mode features if available, as they often emit less blue light.

#4 Create Screen-Free Zones

Designate certain areas in the home — such as bedrooms and dining areas — as screen-free zones to promote healthier screen habits and encourage family interactions.

#5 Use Blue Light Filters

Consider using blue light filters, screen protectors, or apps on electronic devices to reduce exposure to harmful blue light.

#6 Encourage Outdoor Play

Sunlight exposure is essential for healthy vision development. Set daily playtime outdoors to give their eyes a break from close-up screens.

#7 Maintain Proper Posture and Viewing Distance

Ensure your child holds the screen at arm’s length to minimize eye strain while also reminding them to sit up straight and avoid slouching. A comfortable chair with adequate support sure helps. 

#8 Schedule Regular Eye Exam

Schedule routine kids’ eye exams to monitor their vision health and detect any potential issues early on. An eye care professional can provide personalised recommendations based on their findings.

Safeguarding Your Child’s Vision Starts with a Comprehensive Eye Exam

By implementing the tips mentioned above and prioritising regular eye check up for kids, you can ensure their eyes stay healthy and remain hopeful that they don’t need glasses. At VISTA Eye Specialist, we understand the importance of creating a comfortable and fun environment for children during eye exams. Our dedicated team is experienced in working with kids, making the process stress-free and enjoyable. 

Book an eye exam for your kids at VISTA today for peace of mind and healthy eyesight tomorrow.



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