It seems that every child has a digital device these days. Whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet, children are often immersed in technology. Email, Facebook accounts, homework assignments, games and apps can keep the young ones busy from morning to night.
Although kids today may be smarter and more technologically savvy than the older generation, their vision is more at risk than ever before. Excessive screen time is dangerous to children’s eyes because digital devices emit short wavelength light that is in the high-energy spectrum.
Also known as blue light, this type of light is emitted from cell phones, computer screens, and tablets. Blue light exposure is especially harmful to children because their eyes are still developing. Continued exposure to blue light can affect the eyes in two ways. First, it may cause eye fatigue. Your eyes may feel dry, irritated and tired after hours of work on the computer or reading emails. This happens to children as well, but it may happen much more rapidly.
Children can get headaches from digital eye strain, but it is easy for parents to attribute headaches to other sources. Secondly, blue light is harmful because it is the highest wavelength of visible light. The energy from blue light penetrates all the way to the back of the eye and passes through the eye’s natural filter. Adult eyes have protective pigments that filter some of the harmful wavelengths of blue light, but those pigments are not fully developed in children which leaves them susceptible to eye damage. Here are a few tips to protect your children from the dangers of digital devices:
- Too much time on digital devices can disrupt children’s sleep patterns. Cut back on screen time before bed so your children can get better sleep.
- Talk to your eye doctor about lenses that can filter out blue light.
- For young children, make screen time a reward on weekends. School, activities and homework are enough to keep kids busy during the week. Use digital devices as an incentive after a week of hard work.
Be sure to see your eye doctor at least every two years for a comprehensive eye examination. It is a good way to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision and keep track of your solar radiation protection needs as well as new advances in eye protection.