Too much screen time: Eye doctors seeing more preventable vision issues in children during pandemic

Health

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Another COVID-19 pandemic health-related issue doctors are now treating is children’s vision after months and months of too much screen time. That can lead to a condition called myopia, which is nearsightedness.

Nearsightedness – when you can see things clearly up close but not far away – can be treated with glasses and contacts, but it can easily be avoided by limiting a child’s screen time. Dr. Vicente Diaz, a Yale Medicine Ophthalmologist says cutting back while kids are young can help brain and eye development, something parents may not realize.

“The longer the time they’re exposed to up-close work and up-close activities, the higher the chances they’ll get myopia,” says Dr. Diaz.

Dr. Diaz says that from toddlers through age 8, children can really be impacted by too much screen time.

“It can affect the way the brain, that vision develops during that time,” he says.

He says there is also a theory that excessive screen time limits the eye’s growth, which can have long-term consequences.

“Having high myopia over the course of your life can predispose you to other things such as retinal tears, retinal detachments, certain kinds of glaucoma,” says Dr. Diaz.

He says reducing screen time in younger children can stop the vision issue from developing, but once they are older that is not reversible in their brains.

“They would probably need some other type of intervention, glasses, contact lenses, or even surgical procedures.”

He recommends taking breaks, holding the device further away, and most of all setting those time limits.

“What we’re seeing from across these other studies from around the world is that the risk starts to become significant after about three hours of screen time a day.”

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