Can Screen Time Affect My Child’s Eye Health? 

Jun 1, 2023 | Eye Health Info

Children today are spending more time using electronic devices than ever before. Whether it’s watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling on their phones, kids are constantly looking at screens. As parents or guardians, it’s normal to wonder if screen time can negatively affect your child’s eye health. In this blog, we’ll explore the impact screen time can have on your child’s eyes and share tips for minimizing any negative effects. 

How too much screen time affects kids’ eyes 

1. Blue light  
Digital devices like smartphones and tablets emit a type of blue light that can be harmful to the eyes. Blue light enters through the front of the eye and can reach the retina, which is the part of the eye that helps us see. Long-term exposure to blue light can damage retinal cells and result in vision problems like macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness. 

2. Dry eyes 
When we use digital devices, we tend to blink less frequently, leading to dry eyes. This is especially true for children, who are more absorbed in their screens and may forget to blink altogether. The longer the screen time, the higher the risk of dry eyes, which can cause discomfort, redness, and itching. 

3. Nearsightedness 
Spending too much time looking at digital screens can also lead to nearsightedness or myopia. Myopia is a condition where distant objects appear blurry while close-up objects are clear. It is becoming increasingly common among children who spend a lot of time in front of screens. This is because digital screens emit light that focuses on the front of the eye, gradually changing its shape and causing myopia to develop over time. 

4. Eye strain 
Too much screen time can also lead to eye strain, which causes symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. This occurs when the eye muscles are forced to work harder than usual to focus on the screen. If children spend a lot of time on digital devices, they may even develop chronic eye strain. 

5. Vision problems 
Screen time can also cause general vision problems such as eye irritation, redness, and difficulty focusing. These can all negatively impact a child’s ability to learn, study, and perform everyday tasks.  

How to protect your child’s eyes from digital screens 

  • Take a break: Encourage your child to take breaks every 15 minutes of screen time. During the break, they can stretch their legs, grab a snack, or simply look away from the screen for 20 seconds. 
  • Adjust the lighting: Make sure that the lighting in the room is adequate for screen use. Avoid having any bright light sources directly in front of the screen. 
  • Screen settings: Adjust the brightness and contrast of the screen to reduce eye strain. You can also enable the blue light filter or use a night mode to reduce the blue light emitted by the screen. 
  • Maintain a safe distance: Encourage your child to maintain a safe distance from the screen. The top of the screen should be at or below eye level and the screen should be at least an arm’s length away. 
  • Outdoor activities: Encourage your child to spend more time outdoors. Playing outside can reduce the risk of myopia, which has been associated with excessive screen time. 
  • Eye checkups: Don’t forget to schedule regular eye exams for your child. Early detection of eye problems can help to prevent any eye-related problems from worsening. 

While screen time can negatively impact your child’s eye health, you don’t have to ban screens entirely. By following the tips shared above, you can reduce the risk of eye-related problems and ensure your child’s eyes stay healthy. If you have any concerns about your child’s vision or eye health, contact us today in Arlington or Memphis to schedule an eye exam.