Parenting Tips: How does blue light affects eye health in children?

Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune shared how blue light which is emitted from gadgets can affect kids' eye health.
Parenting Tips: How does blue light affects eye health in children?
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It is no brainer that blue light tends to impact your child’s vision as it can cause headaches, blurring of one’s vision and sleep disturbances. Thus, it is essential to limit exposure to the blue light from the digital devices. Is your child constantly accessing those devices? Does he/she often suffer from a headache? Or even encounter vision problems? Then, beware! Blue light, otherwise known as high-energy visible light (HEV) emitted by electronic devices, provides basic illumination in the TV / Monitor/ Mobile screen.

Problems owing to the exposure to blue light: Excessive screen time may put a strain on the eyes and may be linked to blurred vision, dry eye, and headaches, and can lead to interrupted sleep by suppressing the release of melatonin (the hormone that tells us when it’s time to sleep). And an extended lack of deep sleep can in turn contribute to behavioural issues and weight gain due to overeating. Ultraviolet light causes damage to the developing retina and cornea, but now the screens do not emit these harmful lights. Excessive flashes of light from the screen, coupled with sleep deprivation has been linked with seizure (fits).

People of all ages blink far less often when concentrating on a screen. Prolonged periods of watching the screen and spending more time indoors have been associated with the development of near-sightedness (myopia) i.e. specs/number. Therefore, activities on the ground are not only important from the physical fitness point, but also from eye health. Also, environmental light helps in retina development.

Ways to prevent eye strain in children:

Limit screen time and stick to it. Keep a gap of an hour between the end of the screen and sleep. This will help you get a sound sleep.

Dim the screens of all devices, which should limit the amount of the blue light coming through. Try not to use devices in the darkroom.

Using your electronic devices outdoors can be even more harmful because the UV radiation from the sun reflects from your smartphone or tablet screen directly onto your face, doubling the impact of dangerous light radiation.

Establish screen-free zones: no smartphone usage for anyone in the family, in the car, or while at restaurants. See to it that your children do not use mobile or any other devices while having meals. Opt for a digital detox and take time free from electronic gadgets. Make your children understand the importance of spending quality time with family and friends. 

Encourage your child to engage more in outdoor sports.

20-20-20 rule: When using a computer or other screens, make sure after 20 min of the screen time, look away to more than 20 ft distance for more than 20 seconds. This will reduce eye strain.

Make sure the screen is positioned so that your child looks slightly down at it, not up. And adjust the lighting to eliminate glare on the screen.

Make sure you get your child’s eyes examined by an ophthalmologist. All children should undergo routine eye check-up at 1 year and another at preschool at 4 to 5 years.

Allow children to pursue hobbies of their choices instead of accessing those electronic gadgets. Educate children regarding the ill-effects of continuous exposure to the blue light emitted from the gadgets.

By Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant, Paediatrics & Neonatology, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune   

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