Kids Screen Time

One of the most common questions we get from parents is "how much screen time should my child have?".  Computers, tablets, and smartphones are everywhere, even in the classroom.  With all the exposure to devices, it makes sense to wonder what any potential problems are related to an increase in screen time.

Dry Eyes

Just like adults, when kids are looking at a screen, their blink rate drops dramatically.  That can cause the tear film to evaporate more quickly, which can cause blurry vision, discomfort, and a tired feeling.  Over time, this can even damage some of the structures in the eye that are responsible for making components of a normal healthy tear film.  These structures are the Meibomian glands, and they help produce the oily part of the tears.  The Meibomian Glands can actually lose function over time, and that is irreversible.  Reducing screen time, for both kids and adults, can help reduce symptoms of dry eye.

The Blue Light Debate

Our device screens emit blue light.  Certain wavelengths of blue light can be harmful to the human eye.  The largest source of blue light is the sun.  There aren't a lot of studies on the effects of blue light specifically from device screens on the human eye, but some believe that it can be a factor in macular degeneration just as the sun and UV exposure is.  It can also be a factor in tired-feeling eyes at the end of the day.  Blue light exposure can also affect melatonin production, interfering with normal sleep.  For that reason it is recommended that all device use be stopped at least an hour before bedtime.

Computer Glasses

Different lenses and coatings are available to help protect the eyes for extended screen time.  In our office we use the Eyezen+ lenses, which block out harmful wavelengths of blue light.  The Eyezen+ lenses are also available with a small amount of magnification at the bottom of the lens to further reduce eyestrain.We also use Crizal Sapphire, which is a non-glare coating that further reduces harmful blue light in addition to providing all the great non-glare qualities of any Crizal.  Patients who have used these lenses have reported their eyes being much more comfortable at the end of a day of computer use.  These lenses can be put in any frame, including kids' frames.  


So, what's the answer?

The best advice we can give parents is to treat screen-time like dessert- keep it in moderation.  Wearing Computer Glasses is a smart idea, even if there's no prescription in them.  Our kids are going to be exposed more to blue light than any generation before, and we believe taking small steps to ensure their eye health is a wise choice.



Please note- our office is closed for Thanksgiving Nov 22-25.  We will reopen Monday, Nov 26 with normal business hours.

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