Is technology harming your child's eyes?


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From the moment they wake up, kids are surrounded by screens. Whether they're at home or at school, they're staring at computers or tablets, smartphones or smart boards and now, many parents are worried about how that screen time might impair their child's vision.

"I am concerned that they're constantly looking down and texting, or working on an iPad or computer. So, it's something, kind of another thing that we have to think about and are concerned with their development," said mom Angie Barnes.

"If you're concerned about your child's vision, you should get it checked out right away because if you let it go, it can actually cause long-term problems," added Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

If you're worried your child's love affair with technology will harm his or her vision, encourage the practice of these tips to minimize the chance of headaches, eye redness, dry eyes and blurred vision.

  • Play outdoors. If your child is nearsighted, studies show spending time outdoors diminishes the progression of the condition because our eyes alternate between near and far distances more often.
  • Watch the clock. When possible, limit the amount of time your child spends using multimedia technology to fewer than 2 hours each day. The more you stare at a screen, the less often you blink, which contributes to those issues mentioned above.
  • Apply the 20/20/20 rule. After 20 minutes spent using technology, look 20 feet away from the screen for at least 20 seconds. The practice will reduce the effects of eye dryness, which is caused by not blinking as often as when you are not looking at an electronic screen.
  • Wear tinted glasses when using technology that is backlit with blue light. A child's natural eye lens can allow more harmful light to reach the retina than is able to penetrate an adult's eye lens. Tinted lenses specifically designed to block blue light are available in prescription and non-prescription glasses and sunglasses. Orange-tinted lenses are also effective.
  • Lubricating drops may soothe dry eyes, but stay away from eye drops designed to remove redness. They can make your eyes feel drier.

If these tips don't help relieve these symptoms that cause eye discomfort, experts recommend seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist.