Have you ever worried about a cell phone hurting your children’s eyes? What about the electronic pads, tablets, or electronic readers that are so incredibly popular today?
For most people, the answer is probably not. We worry about cell phone radiation and cancer risks, but not about the potential harm to the health of our eyes. But, from toddlers to teens, our children are straining their eyes to satisfy their hunger for electronics.
With the surge in sales of smartphones and electronic devices, it is obvious that many of these are ending up in the hands of children and teens. Often children hold them in their laps for hours on end. Children can experience the same eye fatigue using these phones, pads and tablets that adults experience when working in front of a computer screen all day at work.
The founder of Focus Clinics in London, eye surgeon David Allamby, has been researching the effect smartphones are having on our eyes. His research points to a 35 percent increase in the number of advancing myopia cases since the smartphone hit the market in 1997. It looks like we are just now seeing the long terms effects of using smartphones to the extent that we do.
Because of the potential harm reading electronic devices can have on our eyes, we need to enforce breaks from their screens. Limit the amount of time all children spend playing games on devices. Teach them to hold the smartphone up at eye level and approximately 16 inches away from their face. By holding the smartphones in their lap, they will be holding the screen too close to their eyes and they will be straining their neck.
Teach children to take frequent breaks from the screen to relieve their eyestrain. For every 10 minutes they are using a device, they need to take a break by looking at an object at least 10 feet away for a minimum of 10 seconds. Also, you want to remind your children that they should be blinking often enough to keep their eyes moist.
Chinese doctors in Guangzhou did a study in 2012 to assess the effects of the pads and tablets on young children’s eyesight. The study was conducted on children age three and younger and found that children may develop eye problems such as myopia, astigmatism and amblyopia. The doctors recommend that children younger than three years of age be kept from using the devices.
With young children, you can make changes to their lifestyle without too much resistance. Consider adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet. A healthy diet can strengthen a child’s eyesight and slow the progress of any hereditary eye issues.
If your youngster does not like your healthy choices, or you find it is difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals into your children’s diet, consider adding supplements. Check with your pediatrician to make sure the supplements you are considering are appropriate for your child, and what amount is the correct amount for your child’s age and size.
Consider having a dark time in your house, a time period when no electronic devices can be used. It will not only give your teen’s eyes a rest, but will allow them to focus on other things.
With social media and texting, some teens seem to never have a single quiet mental moment. This time will also allow your teen to be more socially active within your own family, which can be a stress reliever for everyone.
Many parents struggle with getting their teens to eat a healthy diet. Considering the extra eyestrain they are experiencing from their electronic usage, a healthy diet is more necessary than ever.
Parents should watch out for warning signs of eye issues in their children such as complaints of headaches when using the devices, rubbing their eyes excessively, squinting when using the devices or holding the devices extremely close.
The implementation of eye vitamins, resting the eyes, and proper nutrition are simple ways to help keep your children’s eyes healthy in today’s technology driven world.
This post originally appeared on Rebuild Your Vision.