Computer use, cell phones, and iPads have become a routine part of kids’ lives.
Surveys show the average American child spends one to three hours daily on a computer while surfing the Internet, doing homework, talking online with friends and playing video games. About 90% of school-aged children in the U.S. have access to a computer at home or in school.
And kids are starting to use computers at a younger age. Among college students who were interviewed, 20% said they began using a computer before they were 9 years old.
Is there a connection between computer use and myopia?
So how is all this computer use at a young age affecting kids’ eyes?
Many eye doctors who specialize in children’s vision say sustained computer use puts kids at higher risk for childhood myopia (nearsightedness). They point out that, though myopia affects approximately 25% of the U.S. population, nearly 50% of adult computer users with a college education are nearsighted. Computer use, especially among youngsters whose eyes are still changing, may be the reason for this disparity.
Research seems to support this theory. A study of 253 children between the ages of 6 and 10 at the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry found a strong correlation between the amount of time young children spend on the computer and their development of nearsightedness.
Why are computers hard on kids’ eyes?
Computer use stresses the eyes more than reading a book or magazine because it’s harder to maintain focus on computer-generated images than on printed images. There is no fixed focus as there is with black on white print.
This is especially true for young children, whose visual system is not fully developed. There are special testing (Prio computer test) that some Drs. can evaluate the exact prescription necessary to relax eyes at the computer while testing on lighted computerized equipment, which minimizes the need for increased nearsighted correction.