With many families choosing online delivery of education this year, screen time will significantly increase for many of our children. The big question parents are asking me is, what can they do to protect their kids’ eyes and to maintain healthy eyes and vision.
Here are my three quick & easy eye care tips:
1. Take frequent and regular breaks!
Studies show that getting outside and experiencing sunlight is one of the most important factors in preventing children from becoming myopic (or nearsighted). It’s really not fully understood why, but what we do know is that spending at least two hours a day enjoying outdoor activities are beneficial in reducing the risk of becoming nearsighted.
Nearsightedness is not something that can be dismissed if you start using prescription glasses, as it is a concerning progressive disorder that could potentially lead to eye complications like retinal detachments and glaucoma. The prevalence of these disorders are rapidly increasing worldwide and forecasting some unsettling statistics. Latest studies show that by 2050, close to 50% of the world’s population will be myopic and almost 10% will be highly myopic!
2. Wear proper protection: Sunglasses/Hats
I know I just told you to go outside, however it’s always safer early morning or late evening to protect the eyes from the harmful UV rays experienced midday. It’s so important to be safe and preventative while doing the best for your eye care.
From an eye health care perspective, it really is never too early to have your child start wearing quality sunglasses or large brimmed hats to protect their eyes. Although our eyes are able to absorb most of the sun’s UV rays and prevent them from getting to the back of the eye, children’s crystalline lenses aren’t completely formed and so they require a greater level of protection.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays can also cause skin cancer (5-10% of all skin cancers are located on the eyelids!), the development of pinguecula/pterygium that can lead to dry eye and even vision distortion as well as the advancement of cataracts. Only an optometrist can properly diagnose this, hence the importance of regular eye health examinations (Alberta Health Care covers one eye exam per year, for all children under the age of 18).
3. Limit Screen Time & Wear Lenses that block Blue Light
It is very well known that blue light (such as the light emitted by electronic devices) is not filtered by our eyes. While the devices that we all use emit a relatively low level of blue light, we are exposed to it at a much closer proximity than is considered healthy, which can increase the potential damaging effects to our eyes. Extended screen time, like our children are being regularly exposed to, can be linked to an increase in myopia and other vision problems.
So, my advice to protect your kids’ eyes is to limit device/screen time as much as possible, and when your children do get screen time be sure to utilize blue light blocking eyeglasses to protect their eyes.
EyeCare Group recently launched a protective lens technology into kids’ frames which are made with either clear (no prescription) lenses, or with your child’s current prescription.
With everything going on in today’s world we all deserve some comfort in knowing that we are able to relax and enjoy some good family time, safely and by taking the proper precautions to protect your vision and eye health.