DIGITAL devices may be harming children’s eyesight through the prolonged use of social media sites, according to a Bournemouth optician.
Ramesh Lal, who runs KC Opticians in Kinson, says young people are more at risk of developing Computer Vision Syndrome and is calling on parents to take action.
“The long term consequences of using devices like smart phones and iPads on children of certain ages, is not yet known because research can’t keep up with product development,” he explains.
“But we do know that it places much greater strain on the eyes than reading print in a book, because the text size is so tiny and children’s eyes are not as developed as an adults.
“The problem is that their focus is locked for long periods of time and the closer an object is to the eye, the more strain it puts on the muscles.”
Ramesh stresses he is not anti-digital devices, but feels there should be more parental guidance to limit their usage.
“I’m not saying they should be banned because the pluses of these devices certainly outweigh the disadvantages, but there does need to be more research to assess their long term impact on young eyes.
“Evidence from initial studies in Australia and Singapore is that short sightedness in the 11 to 15 year old age group has already increased from 29 to 40 per cent in recent years.
“Although it’s not conclusive, it is worth being alert and aware.”
Ramesh recommends limiting the use of digital devices to around two hours a day including TV and computers.
He adds: “Children of this age do not understand the concept of time so it needs parents to take responsibility.”
Ramesh recommends the 20 10 20 rule. For every 20 minutes allow a 10-minute rest.
SYMPTONS OF SYNDROME
Blurred or double vision/difficulty focusing
Sore neck or back/shoulder pain
Tired, watery, dry or itchy eyes