Have you ever heard of “screen sightedness”? It is a new term that unfortunately has the potential to affect the eyesight of millions of our young. The condition is so recent that there has not been any conclusive studies on its effect. However, there is very little doubt that it is a serious danger for those who are affected by it.
It all begins with a device that billions of people own. It is a mobile phone with a screen. For example, smartphones, which were launched in 1997, have sold over 1 billion units through 2013 worldwide.
Is There Real Evidence of Screen Sightedness?
There is some evidence that smartphones do cause a serious condition called screen sightedness. According to some recent research by a London laser and eye surgery institute, the number of cases of short sightedness or Myopia has risen by 35% since the introduction of smartphones in the world market.
Myopia, the visual condition in which close objects are seen clearly but objects farther away appear blurred, is commonly referred to as near-sightedness. Now, however, with our world being digital, near-sightedness is a growing epidemic. A lifestyle spent on smart phones, watching hours of TV, browsing the internet, and playing screen-games has placed young people and children, in particular, at risk of permanently damaging their eyesight.
The institute has warned that the potential growth of screen sightedness has become critical. They have indicated that there will probably be another 50% rise of this short-sightedness condition. They state that within 20 years all adults that own a smart phone could have Myopia. These figures are not only staggering, they are alarming.
This study was done in Britain but the fact remains that smartphone sales are on the increase world-wide. The problem is that owners of these devices on average use them over 2 hours per day. This disorder has the potential to affect the entire world as these units become a part of everyone’s life.
Are Smartphones Really Causing Increase in Screen Sightedness?
Many skeptics of these figures are asking how a mobile phone device with a screen can cause a condition like Myopia. The answer is twofold. First, there is prolonged usage of the device. The second reason is that the unit is held very close to the eyes. Many of the young adolescents have the device extremely close to their eyes so that they can play the many video games that are available.
Imagine the effect that it would have on your eyes if you stared and squinted into a tiny 4 inch screen for a couple of hours? Now imagine doing so with an intense concentration as you try to focus in on tiny miniscule details of text and animation. Obviously the eyes were never designed to take on such extended strain. As opposed to viewing objects normBaby and Smartphoneally, this type of strain would result in painful headaches and severe eyestrain.
What Can Parents Do About Screen Sightedness?
Screen sightedness is a reality and every parent should be alerted to the potential dangers that it can cause in their children. In fact, every parent should do the following to protect the eyesight of the precious kids. First, they can confiscate all such mobile devices and replace them with a standard non-screen cell phone. Second, they can inform the government officials of these findings so that the industry can be regulated. Third, they can, at least, limit the use of these devices.
There is no universal consensus about these findings. There is however a group of alternative studies being carried out by various universities and other influential citizens. The truth will come out eventually, and the public can decide whether they want to continue using these devices or not.
To keep everyone in your family safe from this new condition called “screen sightedness”, cut down the usage of your mobile screen device as much as possible. Limiting screen-time wherever possible – even just by going outside without your phone for a period of time each day can help lessen eyestrain and reduce the risk of screen-sightedness. When viewing the screen, do so at a safe distance which is as far away as possible from the eyes. Eyesight is one of the most precious gifts that we have, protect it.
In the video below, Vision Therapist, Erin explains how to identify if your child has screen sightedness, how you can avoid it, and why playtime is so important for child development.
Take the Screen Free Week pledge the first week of May! People will turn off video games, mobile games, TVs and other screens and find other ways to have fun, like playing, reading, creating, exploring nature, daydreaming, and spending time with friends and family.
If you find that your vision has already been impacted by screen sightedness, schedule a comprehensive vision evaluation with a Behavioral Optometrist to learn how Vision Therapy can help.
Vision Therapy provides you with the tools necessary to strengthen the visual system so that the eyes are less susceptible to harm from excessive screen usage.
Following the tips above will help prevent or lessen the damage to eyes from screen sightedness.