At our Fresno optometrist office, we see lots of children reading on tablets and playing games on their parent’s smartphone while waiting for their turn in the vision chair. Every time we see this happening we cringe a little. Here’s why.

In its 2015 American Eye-Q® survey, the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that 41 percent of parents allow their young children to spend three or more hours per day on a digital device. It also found that 66 percent of kids have their own smartphone or tablet that can be used at their own discretion.

Eye Strain Takes Its Toll On Young Eyes

While these educational games and reading materials might be good for a child’s brain, the same can’t be said for their eye health. After too many hours of staring at a tablet or smartphone, a child’s eyes can become red, itchy, and watery, which are the signs of eyestrain. Over time, you may also notice your child complaining about headaches, a feeling of tiredness, blurry or double vision, loss of focus, and even neck pain.

Do This One Thing To Reverse The Damage

Scary right? But don’t freak out and tell your child that they can never use the smartphone or tablet again. The key here, as with so many things in life, is moderation. Basically, short, controlled screen sessions are fine. It’s the marathon screen time that you want to avoid.

“The short-term effect of digital eyestrain is not cumulative,” Dr. Tina McCarty, an optometrist from Minnesota and member of the AOA Public Policy Committee, told Healthline. “The eyes will get better when you give them a break and/or wear the proper eyewear in the form of lenses and coatings based on the patient’s specific needs to minimize eyestrain.”

Remember, Signature Optometry is your trusted Fresno optometrist. We’re always available to help provide corrective eyewear and eye health tips for your entire family!