Study, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Washington: Only half of parents agree that screen time has a major impact on their child’s eye health, suggests the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Child Health Survey at the University of Michigan Health.

“Many parents may not be aware of the short- and long-term health issues of excessive screen time, including its effects on children’s eyes,” said Sarah Clark, co-director of Mott Poll. .

“Our findings suggest that some parents may have inaccurate perceptions of activities that affect their child’s eye health and vision and how to minimize risk.”

The nationally representative report was based on responses from 2,002 parents of children aged 3 to 18 surveyed in April.

Some experts have pointed out that the combination of increased screen time and less time outdoors may put children at higher risk of developing nearsightedness or nearsightedness, which can lead to serious eye problems at the future. The rate of myopia in children has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

Research is ongoing, but studies suggest that time spent outdoors protects against nearsightedness.

“Parents should encourage at least one to two hours of time outdoors per day, as exposure to natural light promotes eye development,” Clark said.

“Parents should enforce family rules to ensure children have an extended period of screen-free time during the day. This is especially important during the summer months when they are not in school and may have less structured downtime.”

Some research has also indicated associations between working closely – such as reading or using a tablet – increasing myopia risks.

“It’s important to take the time to think about the risks of myopia for children, because children with this condition often become more myopic over time,” said Olivia Killeen, MD, an ophthalmologist at UM Health Kellogg Eye Center who has viewed the report. “Age of onset of myopia is the strongest predictor of severe myopia later in life.”

Use goggles to minimize risk to children’s eyes

Another overlooked area of ​​eye health – protecting little eyes from intense sunlight.

Less than a third of parents surveyed say wearing sunglasses outside has a major impact on children’s vision and eye health, and only two in five see their child wearing glasses outside.

In fact, when children are outdoors, they should wear sunglasses or wide-brimmed hats to reduce the risk of UV damage, which can contribute to eye problems in older adults, Clark says. .

“While parents often make sure their children’s skin is protected with sunscreen, they may not think about protecting their eyes from the sun either,” Clark said.

Many parents surveyed also skip steps that help minimize eye injuries during activities that include the risk of objects hitting the child’s eye at high speed or force, with less than a third of parents saying that their child wears goggles or goggles during contact sports.

Clark recommends parents seek advice from their child’s healthcare provider for safe and comfortable eyewear for sports like lacrosse, tennis, baseball, softball and basketball.

However, most parents surveyed say children and teens wear goggles or goggles when doing activities that pose a risk of eye injury, including working with tools and playing shooting games like Nerf guns or paintball.

After screen time, the most common factors parents identify as impacting children’s vision and eye health are reading in low light, how far children sit from television/screen, power and blue light from screens.

“Some parents may still follow the advice of past generations on protecting children’s eyes,” Clark said. “Reading in low light or sitting close to the TV can cause eye fatigue or strain, but it won’t cause permanent damage or long-term eye problems.”

Less than a third of parents say their children wear glasses that block blue light. Although the amount of blue light does not harm the eyes, it can impact circadian rhythms and make it harder for children to fall asleep. Experts recommend children stop using blue light screens at least an hour before bedtime.

Regular eye checks to catch problems early

Four in five parents say their child had a vision test during a visit to the pediatrician or family doctor, while more than a quarter say children were tested at school or daycare .

Most parents say their child’s health insurance covers the full or partial cost of visits to an eye doctor, while 9% say they are not covered and 7% are unsure. Parents who report not being covered for eye doctor visits are less likely than parents with full or partial coverage to say their child has seen an eye doctor in the past two years.

One in seven parents say their child has not had an eye test or seen an ophthalmologist in the past two years.

“Children should have vision tests at least every two years to make sure the eyes are developing properly,” Clark said. “It’s important to identify and treat vision problems as early as possible because undiagnosed problems can lead to serious eye conditions in the future, including permanent vision loss.”