Uptick in vision problems among children could be due to screen time

Doctors are seeing an uptick in vision problems among children they believe is fueled by tech.

It’s part of a general trend, where eyesight is feeling the strain of too much screen time.

The American Optometric Association finds the number of people with vision problems has almost doubled. And it’s starting young.

“It’s a common occurrence,” said Dr. James Doyle, a pediatric ophthalmologist with Lee Health. “We see it frequently and we’re seeing it a little bit more frequently these days.”

Doyle said nearsightedness is becoming much more common.

“Nearsightedness is actually myopia,” Doyle said. “You’re in focus to things up close. You see things at near.”

Parents and teachers are often first to pick up on the condition, noticing a change in the child’s habits.

“Many children will hold things closer because they can see them well,” Doyle said. “But if it’s constant and they’re losing interest in things in the distance, that may be an indication that there’s a progression of myopia.”

Doyle said it doesn’t necessarily mean they still need glasses, a shift in attention may help alleviate the condition.

Studies out of Europe looked at differences between people who spent more time outdoors, focusing at a greater distance.

“The people who were outside had a tendency to not progressing in myopia, and those inside had a greater degree of myopia. And that supports the concept of being outside and seeing outdoor and light helps prevent a progression of myopia,” Doyle said.

It’s an important reminder to log off and tune in to the world outside of the screen.

It’s also worth repeating the 20-20-20 rule for screen time.

For every 20 minutes looking at a device, look away for 20 second and put your gaze at least 20 feet away.

Reporter:Amy Oshier
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