Increased rates of nearsightedness or myopia are appearing in young children. Why? It’s due to the amount of time our little ones are spending in front of a screen. Whether that screen is a tablet, cell phone, or computer, young eyes are the most susceptible to the negative effects of too much screen time. This is because children’s’ eyes are not yet mature, and spending hours in front of a screen can detrimentally effect the formation of the developing eye shape. This, in turn, affects the ability to see objects at a distance. But even more important, it can have other long-term effects, like an increased risk of retinal detachment later in life. Ouch!
So what should I do as a parent?
Given the short and long term issues associated with too much screen time, it is important parents take an initiative:
- Limit the amount of time your children spend on screens. “Monkey-see-monkey-do.” If you are spending most of your time on a screen in your free time, your children will emulate this behaviour. Instead, encourage time outside, away from screens by engaging your children in outside activities. Not only does this allow for healthy physical development, but it also supports healthy eye development through dopamine production from natural sunlight.
- Knowledge is power. Know the amount of time your children are staring at a screen. Monitor and track screen time. Many parents may think their children spend less time on say a computer than in reality, and so knowing the actual amount of time can help in establishing healthy habits. Also, teaching children about the 20-20-20 rule can also aid in forming healthy habits.
- See your optometrist regularly. Children will adapt to their environment. If they are not seeing clearly, they will simply adapt because they don’t know any better. Having your children’s eyes regularly tested, will help ensure they are seeing clearly, and also help identify the health of the eyes.
Small initiatives can make big differences now and later in your child’s life. Check out our page about insurance coverage to understand how your child is covered under MSP.
If you are worried about your child’s eyesight or have not gotten their eyes tested regularly, give us a call at 250-920-0755.