Dr Kristy Bhend of You and Eye Family Eye Care said she had seen two major complaints from children and teenagers in the past year: headaches and eyestrain, and worsening prescriptions .
“The amount of near work we do throughout the day increases the progression of myopia,” she said. “We have a lot of people who become more myopic because they spend all day doing this work.”
“Near work” is any activity within reach, such as reading books, concentrating on computer-based lessons, and using cell phones and iPads. Close-up activities force the eyes to “use their focusing systems,” said Bhend, which were never designed for all-day use – “just like our arms weren’t designed to be held all day.” the day”.
Additionally, blue light from digital devices can aggravate eye strain and headaches, and delay sleep.
However, Bhend said the fatigue of spending all day on a computer further exhausts the eye’s ability to focus.
“They’re tired and tired, and that affects the ability for some people to fully concentrate,” she said.
Some patients may end up with a focus spasm, where their eyes get stuck in near-working mode. Others end up being tired.
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“They say, ‘I just can’t read at the end of the day, I’m tired,'” Bhend said. “There’s a whole host of symptoms that can be noted.”
Environment and genetics both play a role in eye health, said Dr. Eva So, an optometrist at the Rochester Family Eye Clinic. While parents who wear glasses often produce children who need them at some point, reduced time outdoors, poor lighting, and prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, which increases the risk of develop myopia.
The time kids would have spent watching in classrooms, playgrounds and the library is now spent watching computers or iPads, So said. Additionally, children and teens likely turn to computers to socialize with family and friends, as well as to learn.
“I’m sure the nearsighted amount will increase,” Bhend said.
More than two hours of screen time a day is considered “high risk” behavior for developing and worsening myopia, she said.
“Since we are all beyond that period, we are all at risk,” she said.
Before COVID, the U.S. population was expected to be about 50% myopic by 2050, Bhend said. It is reasonable to expect COVID to speed up this process.
Nearsightedness at a younger age can also increase the risk of glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems later in life, she said. So this generation could feel the effects of increased screen time decades from now.
There are several ways to combat digital eye strain, Bhend and So said.
First, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, children and teens should look away from their screen to something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Smaller children should take more frequent breaks, Bhend added — every five to 10 minutes, depending on their age.
Annual eye exams can also help, So said. Optometrists can detect myopia well in advance and provide treatments to relieve computer-induced eye strain.