Kids and screens

Parents know the common side effects of excessive screen time – constant arguments about when to turn them off. According to Queenie, Principal Optometrist at Balmain Vision, there may be a more serious side effect to be aware of.


Vision tableMyopia, or short-sightedness (difficulty seeing objects in the distance) is rapidly becoming a serious health concern around the world, and Australia is no exception. Queenie explains that most parents don’t know what myopia is, and don’t recognise the related health risks. “This is concerning given that myopia is associated with an increased risk of blindness from retinal detachment, glaucoma and myopic macular degeneration.”

Having parents with myopia increases a child’s risk of developing the disease but environmental factors also play a role. Near work, such as reading from a book or screen, and lack of time spent outdoors are contributing factors. “Some studies have found a link between myopia and screen use but this doesn’t mean screen time itself causes myopia. The rising rates of myopia are related to near work behaviours and children today are reading from screens.”

Over the past 18-months, children have inevitably spent less time outdoors and more time in front of screens and findings are already showing that COVID-19 may have increased the myopia prevalence in younger school aged children.

Queenie advises parents to watch out for any changes in their kids’ reading and screen behaviour. “Although myopia can’t be cured, there are many effective treatments to delay its progression. Children should spend at least 90 minutes a day outdoors, and less time doing near work activities such as gaming and using computers. At Balmain Vision, we offer proven treatments such as orthokeratology, medicated eye drops and specially designed lenses.”

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