Screened out


Children are now using screens to access learning at home and at school more than ever before, and from an earlier age. New research from Optegra Eye Health Care reveals that 1 in 4 parents is concerned by the level of their child's screen time and many are questioning the effect this may have on eyesight.

It is important to watch out for signs that your child could be experiencing eye strain or other problems with associated with too much time in front of a screen. Signs include:

  • Frequently rubbing eyes.
  • Complaining of headaches.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Sitting too close to the television.

Shafiq Rehman, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Optegra, and dad of four, says: ‘As a father and a surgeon, I am concerned at the amount of time children, as well as adults, are spending on screens. It’s a myth that screens in themselves damage eyes – they don’t. But because we are concentrating on the screen we only blink three or four times a minute, rather than the normal 20 to 30. This can make the eyes dry out. Parents should also be aware that daylight is vital for the healthy growth of the eye, and so we should encourage children to get plenty of fresh air.’

Here are his tips:

  • Encourage your child to take regular breaks from the screen.
  • Try to encourage the 20-20-20 technique – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet into the distance for 20 seconds – this helps eyes adjust and re-focus.
  • Sunlight on a screen may cause headaches and difficulty with vision, so position screen away from direct sun.
  • Regular eye tests will ensure your child has the correct prescription for focused screen time, and consider anti-glare coating if your child is prescribed glasses.