One of the world’s leading opticians, Specsavers, has noticed a worrying trend in increasing eye problems, particularly myopia (short-sightedness), in children and are advising parents to limit screen time, make sure that kids get plenty of time outside and that they have regular eye tests from the age of three.
Saher Shrief, Store Director from Specsavers Opticas Torrevieja stated; “We are now seeing more and more children coming into our store with visual problems, as they are watching more TV, and using more digital devices than they have in the past.”
This is a trend which is being reported by other optical experts around the world. According to the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) excessive use of mobile devices can cause problems like myopia and amblyopia in young children. Maria Liu from UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry, has also seen a sharp increase in young children with myopia (short-sightedness). “It’s increasing at an alarming rate worldwide and a well-accepted contributing factor is the early introduction of handheld devices to kids.”
Overuse of computers and handheld electronic devises can cause digital eye strain and expose children to too much harmful blue light, which might increase a child’s risk of macular degeneration later in life.
In 2012, researchers from the universities of Bristol and Cardiff reported that children who spend more time outdoors playing when they are aged between eight and nine are approximately half as likely to become short-sighted by the time they are 15. So limiting screen time and encouraging outdoor play time is a great way to protect children’s eye and promote good health and levels of activity.
Saher Shrief from Specsavers explains why it is so important to protect our children’s eyes. “Good eye sight is crucial for children, as during the first 12 years of our lives, as much as 80% of learning is accomplished through our vision, yet one out of every four children has an undetected vision problem that may inhibit their progress. Experts believe that many learning disabilities could be vision related as they may not be able to read the blackboard or text books. Parents need to take an active role in protecting their children’s eye health by ensuring they have regular eye tests and following experts’ advice.
We would advise parents to look out for the following symptoms that might indicate they need their eyes checking:
- complaining of headaches
- sensitivity to light
- straining their eyes
- constantly sitting too close to the TV
- saying their eyes are hurting”
Specsavers Opticas suggest that a child should have their first eye examination at around three years old, as the earlier things are detected, the easier they are to rectify without delaying the child’s development. This September they are advising all parents to incorporate a thorough eye test into their back to school routine. Visit www.specsavers.es to find your nearest store.