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Myopia and the Effect of Screen Time on our Vision

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

What can we do to protect our children from developing vision conditions related to screen time?

Myopia, or nearsightednesss, affects nearly 30% of the Canadian population. If you are Myopic, it means that you experience a blurry appearance of far-away objects, caused by excessive lengthening of the eye. Did you know that this condition normally starts during childhood and continues to increase until the age of 20? Registered Optician Amy Chow (also one of our Bayview Glen parents) shared insightful evidence at our Parent Association Meeting last Tuesday regarding Myopia.

 

Why should we be concerned about the rising cases of Myopia? 

With increases in screen time for children and teens being seen across the world, it is important that we take measures now to avoid eye damage. Children ages 8-11 are spending an average six hours per day looking at screens, and kids age 11-14 are up to nine hours per day. Visual input is a crucial part of learning, and difficulties seeing can absolutely be attributed to problems in the classroom.

 

What are some signs of Myopia in kids? 

  • Squinting 
  • Trouble seeing signs in the distance, or needing to move closer to the front of the classroom 
  • Tilting or turning of the head –this may indicate Astigmatism 
  • Headaches, nausea, dizziness 
  • Rubbing the eyes frequently or blinking excessively 
  • Often losing their place on the page 

 

What should we do about it? 

  • Bring your children for eye exams as early as 6 months of age – annual exams are covered by OHIP up to 19 years of age 
  • Enforce the 20-20-20 rule while looking at a screen: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a break, and help to relax the eye muscles 
  • Limit your child’s “extra-curricular” or “fun” screen time 
  • Instead, promote colouring, reading or playing simple games like tic-tac-toe or a word search 
  • Encourage outdoor play – bright, natural light and vitamin D are helpful in keeping eyes healthy 

 

Most importantly… 

  • Toddlers should not have any screen time 
  • No screen time 1 hour before bed. Studies show that this blue light exposure can lead to interrupted sleep  

 

The Eye See...Eye Learn® programme is available to children born in 2015 that will start junior kindergarten in September. If required, Eye See...Eye Learn® will provide one pair of free glasses. See more details here.