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The Eyes of March

Guest blogger, Dr. Paul Colbourne of Bristow Eye Care, is here to talk about how screen time can effect you and your loved ones eyes.

As a practicing Doctor of Optometry I am constantly asked by parents if screen time is bad for their kids eyes? are the facts.

  • 94% of U.S. households have access to a computer that is connected to the internet.

  • The average time spent for an 8-18 year on using a digital device is 7.4 hours a day.

  • Kids in grades 7 through 12 reported spending an average of more than 90 minutes a day sending or receiving texts on their cell phones.

With this pervasive use of technology what does this mean for their young eyes?

Many studies now link near vision tasks with increased risk of myopia or nearsightedness. In 2009 the NEI published a study finding the prevalence of myopia had increased 64% over the past 30 years. For individuals with 12 years or more of formal education, the prevalence of myopia can be as high as 60%. Myopia or nearsightedness increases risks or retinal detachment, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

The American Optometric Association recommends the following:

  • Children may not be aware of how much time they are spending at a computer. They may perform a task on the computer for hours with few breaks. This prolonged activity can cause eye focusing and eye strain problems.

  • Children are very adaptable. They assume that what they see and how they see is normal — even if their vision is problematic. That's why it is important for parents to monitor the time a child spends working at a computer and make sure they have regular eye exams as directed by their optometrist.

  • Children are smaller than adults. Since computer workstations often are arranged for adult use, this can change the viewing angle for young children. Computer users should view the screen slightly downward, at a 15-degree angle. Also, if a child has difficulty reaching the keyboard or placing their feet comfortably on the floor, he or she may experience neck, shoulder and/or back pain.

My advice to my young patients is to consider your eyes as having a battery life (like your smart phone) and you need them to last all day, naturally you would want to conserve and prioritize use. Decreasing non-essential screen time allows you to keep your eyes battery going longer.

Also when indicated we prescribe to them blue light glare free coatings and specific eyeglasses lens designs to reduce near strain, digital fatigue and slow progression of myopia. There are certainly a lot of things to consider when it comes to protecting our eyes in today's modern-digital world. Will technology itself provide a solution to the growing problem or do we go back to basics and develop the discipline to simply know when to unplug.

Dr. Paul Colbourne

Tel: (703) 392-1010 | Fax: (703) 392-4975 |

"focusing on the person behind the eyes"

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