“Turn off the TV or you’ll go blind!”
While your kids will be happy to learn that watching too much TV will not, in fact, make them go blind, the evidence does suggest that spending excessive amounts of time staring at your computer, smartphone, or television can cause serious visual health issues. The problem has become so widespread that medical experts have even come up with a name for it: computer vision syndrome. This condition typically arises after a long session on a digital device and causes symptoms like dry, burning eyes, eye fatigue, and even blurred vision. It can also have long-term health implications, which we discuss below.
The Dangers of Computer Vision Syndrome
Spending as little as two hours per day in front of a digital screen can cause computer vision syndrome, according to a study by the Vision Council. In today’s digitally oriented world, many people, including children and teenagers, easily exceed that. In fact, a survey by the American Optometric Association found that 66% of kids have their own tablet or smartphone, with 41% of parents saying their children spend upwards of three hours per day on their devices.
Computer vision syndrome can affect people of any age, though children may be more vulnerable as their eyes are still developing. Symptoms include:
- Dry, burning sensation in eyes
- Headaches and dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Head and neck pain
- Difficulty focusing
- Eye strain
But these symptoms aren’t the only danger. Digital devices like your computers and smartphones emit blue light rays, which can penetrate deeply into your eyes and cause permanent damage, causing your eyes to age prematurely. This also puts you at a higher risk of developing age-related vision conditions like macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness. In addition, spending too much time in front of screens can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, causing insomnia and other health problems.
How to Protect Your Children From Digital Eye Strain
The best way to protect your children’s eyes from the harmful effects of digital eye strain is to limit the time they spend on their devices. If your child must use a device for an extended period of time, we recommend enforcing the 20/20/20 rule: after every 20 minutes spent in front of a screen, have your child look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a break and also helps increase the blinking rate, which can prevent symptoms like dry eyes.
Most importantly, you need to have your child’s eyes examined on a regular basis. At Neuro Visual Center of New York, we have the skills and experience to diagnose and treat computer vision syndrome and other health conditions caused by over-exposure to blue-light emitting devices. If your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms above, call us today at (516) 302-4053 to schedule an appointment. With school starting in just a few weeks, it’s now more important than ever to be proactive about your child’s health!