NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Did your mom ever tell you not to sit too close to the TV because it would ruin your eyes? Well, today more kids than ever are near-sighted.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, it’s called Computer Vision Syndrome, or more accurately, Digital Vision Syndrome, because it isn’t just computers. It can be caused by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the hours and hours of screen time that kids put in.
“Kids sometimes may complain of double vision, headaches, eye strain, and this is from using their eyes too much up close. There’s a lot of strain on the visual system,” Dr. Erica Schulman, SUNY College of Optometry, explained.
Brianna Hernandez is one of those kids. Like most youngsters she does everything on her phone.
“Usually when I’m on my phone I put my phone up close and my eyesight would get blurry,” she said.
“It’s all the time, and if I let her it’d be all through the night,” Brianna’s mother Roselee Rullan said.
It’s partly that the print and graphics are small, requiring up close vision, and studies also show that all of us, adults and kids, don’t blink completely when looking at digital devices which means the eyes dry out.
The biggest issue is that kids don’t give their eyes a break from all of that up close focusing. And experts remain unsure of what the long-term consequences will be.
“We really don’t know what the long-term consequences are, kids eyes are still growing and still developing, and so there’s a greater risk for them,” Dr. Mark Rosenfield, SUNY College of Optometry, said.
One study found that children who spent more time outdoors had a lower incidence of nearsightedness, probably because they rested their focusing eye muscles.
“We have something called the 20-20-20 rule, where we recommend every 20 minutes people should look at something at least 20 ft away for at least 20 seconds,” Dr. Rosenfield said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids under age two shouldn’t have any screen time at all, and even older children should limit their screen time to two hours a day. That time recommendation may be unrealistic for some, so parents are advised to make sure that kids take frequent breaks to rest their eyes.
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