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Increased Screen Time Caused More Eye Strain For Children: How Long Should You Allow Your Kids to Use Gadgets?

Ophthalmologists have already predicted that there will be an increase in digital eye strain among children during COVID-19 lockdowns Indeed, a new study from ophthalmologists at Wills Eye Hospital showed that increased screen time caused more eye strain and convergence insufficiency, a more troubling eye condition, that leads to difficulty in reading.


Convergence diagram

A diagram of convergence excess, normal convergence, and convergence insufficiency. (PHOTO: Neuro-Vision Development Center)

Convergence Insufficiency on the Rise Among Children

The study, presented at AAO 2021, showed that more and more children are reporting convergence insufficiency, and eye strain due to increased screen time.

According to News Medical Life Sciences, convergence insufficiency is an eye condition that happens when the eyes are unable to work together when looking at an object up close. This leads to a blurred vision as one eye is forced to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye.

Children with this condition may also experience seeing words that seem to appear moving around while they are reading, which might confuse parents and teachers sometimes that the child might have learning problems rather than an eye disorder. Treatment for this condition could include eye exercises and prism sunglasses. But depending on the severity, surgery might be advised.

ALSO READ: Obesity May Trigger Development Of Cells That Break Down Bones Holding The Teeth, Study Shows

How Much Screen Time Should Be Allowed to Children?

Myopia Profile cited recommendations from the American Academy of Paediatrics and the Australian Government Department of Health on the amount of screen time parents and children should follow. These are the guidelines for how much screen time they should have:

  • Children below 2 years old- No screen time
  • Ages 2-5 years old- Toddlers and preschoolers should only have a maximum of 1 hour of screen time per day. Higher than that is associated with poorer social skills, slow language development, and increased risk of obesity.
  • 5-17 years old- A maximum of 2 hours per day for recreational screen time. The amount of screen time is inversely proportional to sleep and school performance.