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How Increased Screen Time and Digital Eye Strain Affects Kids

girl spending screen time on phone

It may come as a shock to you to learn that only 26% of Canadian children average less than the recommended maximum of two hours of screen time per day. From phones to computers to television, it's easy to see how technology is becoming a bigger part of our lives at a speed that can sometimes be difficult to manage. However, despite the often stressful and busy nature of parenting, there are key health reasons to limit a child's screen time. No matter the age, digital eye strain can gradually take a toll on the eyes. This brief guide will help break down the problem in more detail.

Digital Eye Strain: Know the Signs

Healthy eyes are very important for a child's education. In fact, it is estimated that approximately eighty percent of the learning a child does in school is visual. Thus, when you notice signs that screen time is affecting your child's eyes, it's important to act right away. Some common digital eye strain symptoms include ocular fatigue, blurry vision, or dryness of the eyes. Staring at screens for long periods requires prolonged concentration on a light source that's a short distance away. In the short term, this can encourage squinting, which can produce headaches. It also tends to discourage frequent blinking, which can cause dryness, redness, and irritation. In the long term, becoming too accustomed to focusing at such a short distance can lead to near-sightedness.

How to Protect Your Child's Eyes

The most direct way to combat the effects of digital eye strain is to monitor and limit your child's screen time. Try to keep the amount of time that your child uses devices with screens down to a fixed limit, and use timers if needed. In addition, some devices have built-in settings to allow only a pre-set amount of screen time a phone or gaming console can provide. To alleviate any physical effects of digital eye strain that may already be present, there are numerous options available. For one, digital eye strain drops can reduce dryness and redness. Also, specially made digital eye strain glasses work to specifically combat the "blue light" effects of digital screens. Furthermore, regular eye exams can ensure that your child's vision is staying healthy. If any deterioration in eyesight is detected, it is for the best that the problem is addressed and cared for as early as possible.

Schedule an Eye Exam for Your Child Today

With screens all around us, the risk of digital eye strain is ever-present. Therefore, it is highly recommended that parents protect their child's eyesight before any symptoms should arise. At Eye Health Centres, we offer full-service vision care and are dedicated to educating and serving our patients however we can. Whether you or your child is due for an exam, contacts, or new eyewear, contact us today to learn what we can do to help or schedule an appointment at our Calgary (Shawnee & Kensington) or Regina locations.


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