Children’s Eye Health In The Digital Age: Tips For Maintaining Their Vision

Childrens Eye Health In The Digital Age

Modern digital devices are integral for everything from work and play to leisure. As with everything else, though, they pose health risks when not used in moderation.

We’ve previously noted that long-term computer use can strain your eyes and potentially take away from your vision over time.

You’ll also blink less often, causing pain and discomfort through conditions like dry eye syndrome. However, kids experience longer-lasting effects.

When they spend less time outdoors to use devices up close, their eyes prioritize near versus far vision. That causes their eyeballs to elongate, leading to nearsightedness (myopia).

Kids are getting diagnosed with this condition at increasingly younger ages. Early-onset myopia can lead to more serious eye conditions as they age, such as retinal detachment and blindness. 

With digital device use becoming more necessary in today’s digital age, experts believe 40% of the world’s population will be nearsighted by 2030—and most cases are expected to be children.

If you want to take steps to maintain your kids’ vision for longer, here are a few things you can try: 

Limit Screen Time 

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests an hour of screen time per day for kids aged two to 12 and two hours for teens. They also ask that kids under 2 be given no screen time whatsoever.

If that’s not feasible, though, you don’t need to be so strict with these limits. An extra TV episode, for example, won’t hurt kids who still make time to hang out with their friends, partake in physical activities, and sleep well.

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The kind of screen time you expose your kids to matters, as well. If they spend a little more time watching educational programs like Sesame Street, they can still experience improved cognitive and emotional development.

Try to hit a good middle ground between the above recommendations and your kids spending all day on their gadgets so they can benefit from screen time without it significantly affecting their eye health. 

Encourage Gadget free Activities

Encourage Gadget-free Activities 

Today’s kids are digital natives, which is why they may have a fixation with gadget use. To prevent that preoccupation from affecting their eyesight, encourage some activities they can try outside their screen time limits for the day.

If they’re interested in instruments like the guitar and piano or sports like soccer and basketball, sign them up for lessons.

You can also set them up on playdates or see if they want to take up hobbies like cooking and painting.

To encourage family time, you can even try fun group activities like picnics and treasure hunts at the local park.

Suggest things your kids are interested in and watch them get absorbed in what they’re doing—without the need for gadgets. 

Optimize Screen Use 

Even if your kids limit their device use and occupy themselves with other activities, they’ll eventually have to clock some screen time for things like school and play.

You can still protect their eyes during these times by ensuring they have the best setup possible for using gadgets.

To prevent strained eyes and worsened vision, they’ll need protection from the artificial blue light screens emit—so have them wear blue light glasses.

These block harmful wavelengths that fatigue the eyes and cause them to go out of focus, ensuring visual comfort.

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You can also use a computer monitor or laptop stand to keep screens at eye level and at least 20 inches away.

That will ensure they’re not relying too much on near vision that causes myopia. Finally, have them follow the 20-20-20 rule—where they take breaks every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds—so their eyes maintain their ability to shift to far vision. 

Book Eye Exams

Book Eye Exams 

If your kids were spending too much time on screens before implementing the above tips, you may not know how much device use has affected their eyesight.

That’s why it’s important to get them checked out by an optometrist, who can check for refractive errors like myopia and discern if these conditions were caused by excessive screen time.

If so, these professionals will likely provide further advice for curbing gadget use and recommend they wear prescription glasses.

It’ll be crucial for you and your kids to follow their treatment plans. Wearing glasses alone can slow the progression of myopia, especially now that advancements in kids’ glasses like MiYOSMART and Stellest can halt it from worsening altogether.

Optometrists can also offer tailored screen time tips that suit your family’s unique lifestyle and routines.

From here, be sure to book your kids for regular eye exams in the future. That way, you can catch further eye conditions caused by screen time and treat them as soon as possible.