Digital devices may be harming children's eyes

Blue light from screens strain eyes

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Taking time to take your eyes off of your digital devices offers relief for your overworked eyes and can help in preventing eye complications.

Whether it's the strain caused by constantly staring at devices such as smartphones, tablets and desktop screens, or the accumulated damage from the screens' blue light, experts agree that our eyes are paying the price for our round-the-clock digital dependence.

Local Ophthalmologist, Dr. Robert Schnipper said, “I recommend that vision checks should be part of every pediatric examination, that’s for sure and if there is any question or any history of the parents wearing glasses I think children should be examined.”

One of Schnipper's biggest concerns is that the wavelength of the blue light spectrum coming from these devices may increase the risk of macular degeneration. Yet the issue goes beyond the device-produced blue light to the eye strain caused by continual use of the devices themselves.

Doctors cite an overall change in lifestyle for the rising rates of eye complications such as dry eye.
“People advise that people take a break every half an hour to an hour walk around blink your eyes absolutely. You shouldn’t look at a screen for five straight hours,” Schnipper said.

The New York Times reports in the early 1970s about a quarter of Americans aged 12-54 were nearsighted. In the early 2000s, it was already more than 40 percent.

Severe nearsightedness, which signals a risk of problems like glaucoma or retinal detachment, increased eightfold for the same population, from 0.2 percent to 1.6 percent.

“The increase in nearsightedness in kids is getting higher and people attribute that to their games, computer stuff and iPhones -- their smartphones that they spend hours a day on,” said Schnipper.

Doctors suggest, buying a blue light filter for your phone online. You can find them for as little as $6. That way you and your child’s eyes are protected.

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