How to protect your child’s eyesight in the high tech age

The amount of time kids spend on devices is straining young eyes and leading to increased short-sightedness, however there are a number of things we can do to help, says leading Ophthalmologist Dr Con Moshegov.

The World Health Organisation says short-sightedness, or myopia, already affects about 30 per cent of the world’s population.

Due to lifestyle changes and the higher use of computers and digital screens, myopia and eyestrain in children is increasing, with more and more having to see eye specialists because of problems with their vision.

“When using these devices, there’s a lot of concentrated ‘near’ effort and we aren’t blinking as much as we should which causes stress of the muscles behind the eyes,” Dr Moshegov says. “Symptoms include blurred vision and headaches.”

There’s also some evidence that a lot of blue or violet light, the so called ‘high frequency light’, can be damaging to eyes.

The number one thing parents can do, Dr Moshegov says, is send kids outdoors.

“For kids who have a tendency to be myopic, the progression of the disorder is significantly higher on those constantly on screens than those who spend time outdoors as well as indoors,” he reveals. “Light is somehow good for our eyes and reduces myopia or slows it down”.

However, for those of us who have no choice but to spend a lot of time on computers and looking at screens, there are a number of quick and easy exercises we can do to protect our eyes.

“Just looking into the distance – out through a window if possible or down a corridor – should be encouraged,” Dr Moshegov says. “Having a few blinks and defocusing on something in the distance spreads the tear film over the surface of the eyes.”

“Then there’s this little rule that they call the 20:20:20 rule. Every 20 minutes or so, you look into the distance and infinity, 20 feet or beyond, for about 20 seconds. It’s very good for you!”

Dr Moshegov’s top three tips for protecting your eyes:

  1. Learn to blink more frequently.
  2. Look away more often – use the 20/20/20 rule.
  3. Give children enough time in daylight each day.

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Jo, Ed, and the team.