young boy closely watching a video on a laptop screen

COVID and Increased Screen Time: Changes in Children's Eyesight

Changes away from in-person learning have meant increased screen time more than ever before.

The use of screens has been commonplace for children in the decade; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in screen time both in education and at home. Unfortunately, it's well known that eye strain is common after a prolonged time looking at screens.

How Does Increased Screen Time Affect Eyes?

It's long been established that extended periods on screens can damage eyesight. However, before COVID-19, children weren't included in this risk group.

Worrying data from China shows that before COVID-19, the rate of myopia (short-sightedness) in 6-year-olds was 5.7%. After lockdown, this increased to 21.5%.
Although there may have been other factors that contributed to this (e.g., reduced exercise or time outdoors), an increase in screen time is a critical cause of increased eye problems.

Exposure to light from screens leads to dry eyes and puts extra strain on the eye muscles. Further research also shows that the blue light emitted by electronic devices may cause damage to the sensitive retina cells.

As children are still growing and developing, they may be more sensitive to these changes, putting them at a higher risk of developing eye problems.

 

How to Protect Your Eyes from Screens

As we are living in the digital age, avoiding screens altogether usually isn't practical. However, there are things you can do (and teach your children) that help protect eye health.

  • Implement the 20-20-20 rule in your household. This is where for every 20 minutes of screen time, you should look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.

  • Ensure that your child has a desk with a good chair when they're using screens. This will improve their posture and prevent them from getting too close to the screen.

  • Consider getting blue light glasses. If you're concerned about the effect of blue light, you can alter the settings on phones and tablets to minimize blue light or invest in 'blue light blocking glasses.'

  • Get regular checkups to ensure their eyes are healthy. An optometrist will spot even minor changes in eye health and provide the appropriate treatment early on to keep young eyes functioning well.

 

Protect Your Eyes Today: Get the Whole Family Checked 

If your family has been spending more time on screens over the last year, it's more important than ever to check on your eye health. If it's time for a checkup, why not schedule an eye exam at Langley Optometry Clinic today!

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