Posted on 19 Oct 2016

Many people reading this article will be multi-tasking – maybe reading a tweet or an update on their smartphone in between paragraphs. There might be a tablet or a TV nearby to distract them as soon as they’re finished. With so many digital devices surrounding them, it’s nearly impossible to avoid looking at a screen for extended periods of time – nearly 9 in 10 adults are exposed to at least one digital device for two or more hours a day.


All of this extended screen time is causing problems for America’s eyes – the longer they look at an LCD screen exuding blue light, the more they increase the risk of suffering from digital eye strain. It’s the reason why one might need to visit an Austin vision center for new glasses well before the recommended two years.


The Digital Generation


While adults can suffer from eye strain, their children are far more at risk. Older generations might have tried a computer for the first time in college, or when the employer decided to make it mandatory. Children, however, grow up with so much technology around them that it’s inescapable.


This isn’t a case of bad parenting; a lot of the computer screen exposure can happen at school or even while doing homework. Where the parents went out to the library, kids search for their information on the internet, then write the report on their computer. You don’t need to be an Austin eye care specialist to deduce that all of this screen time must have a negative impact.


Effects of Blue Light


Computer screens and smartphones haven’t been around long enough for a comprehensive study to be completed. So the results may not be definitive just yet, but early signs are troubling.


Extended exposure to blue light is being linked to retina degeneration. This accelerates any long-term vision problems and causes an earlier onset of vision problems.


Austin eye care specialists like Dr. Denise Smith have noticed a sharp increase in myopia, also known as nearsightedness, over the past decade. The growth is far more dramatic than in generations past, and it’s continuing exponentially.


For kids and teens, it’s a double-whammy. Not only are they getting far more blue light exposure as technology fills every gap in their life, but they’re also less likely to get outside and experience natural sunlight. The sun’s rays are far more gentle on the eyes, so long as the sun isn’t looked at directly.


Tips to Treat Eye Strain


So is that it? The next generation is doomed to suffer from eye strain and retina degeneration? Not quite. There are a few things parents can do to help their children keep their vision strong for years to come.


It comes down to quantity, and quality. If possible, breaking up a child’s time in front of the computer with other activities can help the eyes to relax and refresh. If the child really does need to use the computer for extended times, make sure they don’t sit too close to the screen. You might consider purchasing special computer eyewear that helps filter out blue light.


All of the exposure to blue light is no laughing matter. Vision care, in Austin or elsewhere, is important. The best course of action is to bring up how much blue light the child is exposed to at their yearly eye exam. The professional can help keep the child’s vision strong and healthy, as well as help correct any bad habits before they grow out of control.


Those seeking vision care in Austin can contact Dr. Denise Smith at the Austin Vision Therapy Center. Call 512.351.7288 or use the Contact Us page for more information.