Digital stress leads to eye disease in children: Experts

It is important to remember that children need help and reminders to use digital display devices in a timely and eye-friendly manner.

Since the pandemic began, more and more children are spending time watching the screen, especially since schools have moved from the traditional teaching method of using blackboards to online classes using digital devices. This means extra time to stare at the digital screens, be it for education or recreational purposes.

Children spend an alarming amount of time staring at the digital screens of computers, tablets, TVs, smartphones and other devices. Digital devices emit high-energy blue light that is more easily scattered than other visible forms of light. Prolonged exposure to this type of unfocused visual noise reduces contrast and strains the eye, leading to eye-related disorders.

Experts suggest that children today spend nearly 7 hours using screen-based media, tablet, e-reader, playing online games and using social media. Especially if they enjoy it, it’s very possible that the kids will keep watching and playing to the point of exhaustion.

However, this does not include the extra time spent on online classes or studies. Continued exposure to the screen can affect children’s well-being, including how their eyes may feel.

According to Dr. Ritika Sachdev, director of Center for Sight: “Children who spend more than 3 hours a day are at high risk of developing eye-related disorders. The number of children who now have to use high-powered glasses has grown at an alarming rate due to increased screen time. While it’s normal to have watery or itchy eyes, blurred vision with irritation is a worrisome sign and can lead to serious eye disease.”

While looking at a digital screen for extended periods is one of the leading causes of eye disease, problems can also be caused by poor lighting, vision problems that the person was not previously aware of, improper workstation setup, or a combination of these factors. .

dr. Jayangshu Sengupta, Medical Director, Priyamvada Birla Aaravind Eye Hospital and MP Birla Eye Bank, comments: “Children are exposed to electronic gadgets every day. However, overexposure to digital devices can not only harm a child’s vision development, but can also pose several health risks in the long run. It is said that while concentrating on a digital screen, people blink significantly less, resulting in dry and irritated eyes. As a result, the upper eyelids tend to open wider, accelerating the evaporation of the eye’s tear film. In the post-pandemic phase, an increasing number of dry eye (DED) cases among college students has been observed. The discomfort seems to increase with the use of digital screens.”

Children and adults both experience many of the same symptoms of digital eye strain. However, some unique aspects of how children use the digital devices make them more vulnerable than adults to developing eye discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches, dry eyes and other eye strain symptoms.

dr. Amit Gupta, professor of ophthalmology, BGA Chandigarh, said: “Eye fatigue has become a daily problem, with potentially serious health consequences. Symptoms such as sore eyes, irritation, headache, poor attention span, difficulty sleeping are some of the warning signs when used alone or together, especially among the younger generation.As commonly used electronic devices become a necessity, especially for children’s education, regular eye exams are a must.It ensures early detection and timely treatment of any vision problems before they interfere and prevent the affect quality of life.”

There are many ways in which parents/carers can prevent eye disease in children by limiting screen time each day, reducing the brightness of the digital device and properly lighting the room to ensure regular breaks to prevent eye strain. Parents may also want to consider special glasses that help filter out blue light that can be used during digital learning sessions or while using a digital device and a 20-minute or longer “blink break” during screen time.

It is important to remember that children need help and reminders to use digital display devices in a timely and eye-friendly manner.

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