How frequently do young children use computers and other digital devices these days? The answer may astound you. And it could result in a problem called computer vision syndrome.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94 percent of American children ages 3 to 18 currently have access to a computer at home.
Also, research reported by Common Sense Media shows:
98 percent of U.S. households with kids under the age of 8 have some type of mobile device (smartphones, tablet computers, etc.) — the same percentage as the amount of homes that have a television.
Kids under age 8 now spend an average of more than two hours a day viewing digital displays. Among older children, screen time jumps to six hours per day for ages 8 to 10 and nine hours per day for kids 11 to 14 years old.
Because this rapid increase in the use of computers and other digital devices by children has occurred within just the past decade or two, there’s no conclusive data regarding the potential harmful effects of too much screen time on kids' eyes — both in the short-term and later in life.
Screen time risks
A primary concern that many eye care professionals have is that significant hours of computer use by kids may put them at greater risk for developing myopia (nearsightedness).
Research appears to confirm that opinion. A large study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that the prevalence of nearsightedness among Americans has increased from 25 percent to 41.6 percent of the population over the past 30 years — an increase of more than 66 percent.
The time frame of this significant increase in myopia parallels the ramp-up of hours of computer use worldwide. And the greatest risk for nearsightedness and myopia progression takes place in childhood.
But another concern is that more eye doctors are seeing children in their offices who are experiencing symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) — a condition characterized by a combination of eye strain, headaches and fatigue-related discomfort and posture problems.
High-energy blue light emitted by the screens of computers and other digital devices appears to contribute to CVS symptoms. Also, research suggests blue light has the potential to cause oxidative stress on the retina of the eye over time. Some researchers believe this stress on the retina might increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration later in life.
More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of blue light from computer use on the eye. But many eye doctors are urging caution, because when today's children become tomorrow's seniors, they will have been exposed to far more blue light from digital devices than previous generations have been.
What to do
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome — headaches, eye strain, posture problems, etc. — are good reasons to schedule an eye exam for your child. Addressing these issues early not only will relieve unnecessary discomfort, it may also reduce the risk of vision problems or eye health concerns later on.
And if your child already wears glasses, ask your eye care professional about photochromic lenses and anti-reflective coating. These eyewear products can increase visual comfort and decrease your child's exposure to blue light both indoors and outside.
You can schedule your eye exam here: https://www.jadeoptical.com/appointment