Screen time – I feel your guilt!

Screen time – I feel your guilt!

There is a lot of misleading information about the damage that ‘screens’ cause our eyes and vision, here is a quick summary to keep you up to date with the facts!!

What is blue light?

Blue light is a high-energy visible light which has shorter wavelengths, it is naturally present in sunlight but is also something we can see from screens such as TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets.

Can blue light damage my child’s eyes?

There is currently no scientific evidence that blue light causes damage to the eyes. However, there is evidence to suggest that carrying out near tasks, involving looking at something close-up, such as using mobile devices, screen time and reading a book, can increase eye strain for those who do this for long periods of time.

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain happens when a lot of time is spent using near vision, for example, reading on screen or playing online games. It does not cause permanent damage to your eyes but can be uncomfortable. One of the main symptoms is temporary blurred vision but other signs such as sore and tired eyes, dry eye and headaches are also associated with digital eye strain.

Can blue light affect my child’s sleep pattern?

Using screens close to bedtime may contribute to poorer sleep, which may mean your child’s concentration levels are lower during the day. This may be because blue light is linked to the suppression of the hormone melatonin which makes us feel sleepy. However, there is a range of other factors linked to disrupted sleep.

Can blue light filtered lenses help? 

Some people and many of my patients report that their blue light coatings make their eyes feel more comfortable and have reduced their symptoms of digital eye strain but there is no clear scientific evidence to support this. There is also no evidence that these kinds of coatings prevent eye disease.

Why have I heard that blue light is harmful to eye health?

Several studies have been carried out into the effects of blue light, and research in this area is still ongoing. Some past studies have revealed that exposure to blue light can lead to changes in animals’ eyes. However, because the time and intensity of exposure to blue light in these studies was far more than that of natural daylight and that of screens, this does not show that blue light is harmful to eyes.

Is there a link between screen time and short-sightedness?

Short-sightedness, or myopia, is increasing throughout the world. Family history, ethnic background, environment (living indoors, in cities) and carrying out near tasks, such as screen use, have all been linked to the development of myopia. However, there is no clear evidence to suggest that screen time alone is the direct cause. But, there is good evidence to suggest that children who spend more time outdoors are at lower risk of developing short-sightedness.

Ground breaking research has resulted in a specialised daily contact lenses for children which can slow myopic progression by up to 59%.  Downes Opticians in one of a handful of specialised Opticians in the whole of the UK that can prescribe this contact lens, please get in touch for more information.

Tips for keeping your child’s eyes healthy

  • Get them outdoors – regular play and exercise can help prevent or reduce the development of myopia (short-sightedness). Studies show two hours of outdoor activity a day is ideal.
  • Use night settings – using night settings, if your device has them, may help children sleep by reducing the amount of blue light given off by the screen during night-time hours
  • Make sure digital devices are turned off at least an hour before bedtime
  • Book your child in for a sight test every two years, from the age of three, or more often if your optometrist recommends it.
  • If your child is myopic consider myopic management to reduce their myopic progression

We would love to help with any of your eye concerns:
Downes Opticians, 2 North Junction Street, Leith, Edinburgh
0131 5535358