Optometrist urges less screen time

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A FRANKSTON optometrist says that it is important that children spend more time away from screens to help improve eye health.

A study released late last year, the YouGov Galaxy Kids Eye Health Study prepared for Specsavers, was conducted between over 1000 Australian parents with children under 18. The study revealed that children spend an average of two and a half hours on screens each day, with 15 per cent spending longer than four hours.

Specsavers Frankston optometrist Yi Yang said “I understand how strong the pull of digital screens is for children and I also know that the way children learn and play is drastically changing as technology becomes increasingly incorporated into everyday life.”

“It’s no surprise that 90 per cent of Victorian parents say digital screen time is top of the list for their children’s health concerns. But what is surprising for many is that when it comes to eye health, the biggest problem with screen time is nothing to do with the actual screens. It’s simply the fact that normally when kids are on screens like phones and computers, there is a lot of near vision work that is often indoors without natural light. That’s the part that’s bad for your eyes,” he said.

“Staring at screens and being indoors for extended periods of time can increase the risk of myopia or becoming short-sighted. This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant objects appear blurred. Children are more at risk of this, as their eyes are still developing.

“The biggest message I would like to get across to parents is to make sure their children spend time outside playing and if parents are worried about the impacts of screen time on their child’s eye health, the best thing to do is to book in to see an optometrist for an eye test. The school holidays are the perfect opportunity to encourage healthy eye habits.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 20 January 2020

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