Is screen time damaging your child’s eyes?

The world has changed a LOT since I became an optometrist, 40 years ago (even though it feels like yesterday!).

And one of the biggest changes to impact all of our lives is screen time.

None of us could have foreseen the way we live now – how TVs, laptop screens, tablets, phones & gaming have become such a HUGE part of our day.

And quite frankly, I’m not sure our human eyes were made for it. Technology has moved on a million miles, but the way we see hasn’t changed.

Not one bit.

I saw another news article this week, about how children as young as 18 months are spending an average of 3 hours a day on tablets & other digital devices.

Your child might not spend that long in front of a screen, of course – and this is certainly not to judge anyone who chooses a lot more than that (it can be a daily battle to drag them away from Minecraft, after all!).

But with schools now doing more & more technology-based learning (like times tables games on the tablet as homework), it’s only going one way.

And it has B-I-G implications for our children’s eyes.

How do you KNOW if it’s starting to affect your child’s vision? What are the warning signs you should look for? And what can you do about it?

Well – myopia (or short sightedness, to you & me) is on the rise.

Studies have indicated that within 30 short years, more than half our population will have moderate to severe short sightedness.

It’s a real, modern-day epidemic.

And I truly believe that the concentrated, near-vision requirements of using screens close up from an early age (and less time spent outdoors) has a LOT to do with it.

So what ARE the warning signs? What should YOU be looking out for, in your family?

It’s harder in very young children & toddlers, of course. But symptoms we often see include:

• Struggling to see things at a distance, so sitting very close to the TV or holding books very close to their eyes;
• Squinting & frowning;
• Needing to sit near the front at school, because they can’t see the board (or trouble concentrating & staying engaged);
• Complaining about achey or tired eyes;
• Headaches;
• Rubbing at their eyes;
• And difficulty recognising faces at a distance (this is often a real tell-tale sign, especially with people they know well!).

The real challenge with short sightedness, of course, is that it does tend to get worse year after year, as your child gets older.

But the good news is that if any of these DO sound familiar to you, that there ARE things we can do.

Step #1 is to pop them along for an ‘Extended’ Eye Exam.

It’s quick, easy & 100% pain-free.

You get your ‘Extended’ eye exam as standard when you visit us – but it’s far more thorough than you’d expect from a traditional eye test, using the very latest digital technologies (which most kids who visit us think are pretty cool!).

We completely ‘get’ that a trip to the opticians can be daunting or scary for your child – especially if they don’t like being messed with!

Which is why we explain every step to your child in language they can understand, to help them relax & give them confidence that’s it’s really all ok. We’ve been a family practice in Aylesbury for over 25 years, and with children of our own (albeit all grown up now), we’ve had a LOT of practise!

Ultimately, our aim is to make the whole process as stress-free & easy for you & your family as it can possible be.

Step #2 is to find the right solution for YOU, whatever the outcome.

Hopefully your child will leave our practice with a 100% clean bill of eye health!

It’s ALWAYS our #1 aim. A trip to the opticians should be about safeguarding your child’s sight – not buying glasses.

But if your ‘Extended’ eye exam does show anything up, then we’ll work together to find the right solution for your family – that’s affordable, sustainable & corrects your child’s vision as effectively as possible.

So what if they ARE short sighted? Will they need glasses forever?

Well – not necessarily!

The good news is that in addition to the traditional glasses route (that corrects their vision, but doesn’t slow the progression of short sightedness down) – there are brand NEW technologies available, to help keep your child’s vision clear as they grow up.

We’ve seen tremendous success with Ortho-K lenses recently. Your child only wears them at night, takes them out in the morning & can see 100% clearly all day without wearing ANY glasses or lenses!

The lenses work by changing the corneal shape to cancel the myopia – and the way the corneal surface is re-shaped also slows down the progression of short sightedness. All while your child sleeps!

It means you don’t have to worry about their glasses getting broken in the playground or managing their lenses when you’re not there to help. They’re especially great if your child is sporty & active (or if they just lose their glasses every other week!).

Another brand new option is a soft lens called MiSight. These are worn during the day (like traditional lenses). BUT as well as correcting their vision so your child can see clearly, they’ve also been proven to slow down the progression of short sightedness in most children, by refracting central & peripheral light entering their eyes.

Because they’re disposable daily lenses, you don’t have to worry about cleaning them (or your child losing them like glasses!). And they’ve been developed to be incredibly comfortable to wear, with low dehydration rates to avoid dry, itchy eyes.

I don’t know about you, but I feel VERY lucky to live in a world where options like this are available to us. All to keep our children’s sight as clear as possible, for as long as possible – so their lives are NEVER limited by what they cannot see.

But it all starts with an eye test.

Do pop in and see us, to get the ball rolling. If you’ve got any concerns at all about screen time & your child’s eyes, we can chat everything through.

Call our friendly practice now on 01296327584 to book your appointment or click here to get in touch through our website.

We’d love to welcome you & your family very soon!