Americans’ Love Affair with Digital Screens Seems to be Here to Stay
It seems children and teens are just as locked in as adults…staring at smart phones, laptops and tablets all day at school, then spending much of their free time nose-down on their phones. Our children are exposed to an unprecedented amount of screen time – screens that emit blue light and cause digital eye strain.
With more work, play and education coming in digital form every day, this is our new normal. Research from VSP Vision Care found that nearly 50% of parents surveyed say their children are “addicted” to digital devices.
THE SCREEN LIFE
According to Common Sense Media, tweens (ages 8-12) spend more than 4.5 hours per day on digital devices, and teens (ages 13-18) spend more than 6.5 hours per day. An eye-opening study by VSP Vision Care reports that by age 13, the average American child owns three digital devices and has up to 70 hours a week of screen time (including school homework). By 17, the average child has spent nearly 50,000 hours on digital devices (about a third of his/her life).
Though still being studied, the long-term effects of blue light on eye health may include macular degeneration, cataracts and other retinal diseases as today’s children get older. Right now, however, it’s causing eye fatigue and eye strain — headaches, dry eye (blink rates reduce when staring at a screen), blurred vision and neck pain. In addition, several studies now point to blue light as the culprit in sleep issues as it can interrupt natural circadian rhythms. This is especially true when digital devices are used right up until bedtime. The truth is, digital devices are taking a toll on young patients. VSP O.D.s say they are seeing a 38% increase in reported symptoms in kids from screen exposure. Do your children express any eye fatigue or sleep disturbances? It’s possible it could be related to a blue light issue. Start the discussion with your child on symptoms of eye strain. You might want to consider limiting their screen time, and don’t forget to schedule your child an eye exam.
Lens coatings such as BluTech are a great option to add to your prescription glasses that are designed to filter harmful wavelengths known to be associated with digital eyestrain, headaches and sleeplessness. BluTech offers the most near-clear protection against blue light emitted by digital devices and artificial light without distorting color. Ask your optician about adding BluTech technology to your lenses.
THE 20-20-20 RULE:
Every 20 minutes,
look at something 20 feet away
for 20 seconds.
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