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Dangers of “iPad Eyes” For Children

Should you take your kid’s iPad away to help avoid iPad eye strain?

The rate of myopia (you probably know this condition as “nearsightedness”) is soaring higher and higher among kids in America. Eye strain and dry eyes are also on the rise in children. Could iPads and smartphones be the cause?

Link between eyesight and iPads for Children

When we perform kids’ eye exams in Conroe, The Woodlands, and Spring, Greenspoint, Kingwood, Houston, Texas, our eye doctors diagnose a stronger prescription yearly for many kids with myopia. According to the National Eye Institute, this phenomenon is occurring throughout the entire country – reaching epidemic proportions.

Can iPads cause eye problems in children? One reason for the connection between vision and children’s favorite digital gadgets is the way fun technology discourages outdoor playtime. Nowadays, many kids miss out on kicking or hitting a ball and using their eyes to look into the distance. Instead, they sit on the couch, streaming videos and engaging in handheld combat games. Only near vision is required for these indoor activities.

Blue light emissions

Without exception, blue light is emitted by all digital devices. The dangers of blue light on future eye health have been researched and documented. Overexposure to blue light can put children at an increased risk of early-onset macular degeneration and cataracts in the future.

As the shortest, highest-energy wavelength, blue light also flickers and reduces the visual contrast of computer displays – making it harder for the eye to focus. Eye strain, a classic symptom of computer vision, is a common complaint among adults and children alike who use computers.

Overexposure to artificial blue light, especially in the evening, also messes with kids’ circadian rhythms, making it harder to slip into a restful sleep at night.

While people of all ages can suffer from eye strain and future eye health problems due to blue light, children are particularly vulnerable to problems caused by digital screentime, because their eyes are still developing. Nowadays, it’s not unusual to see young kids at age 3 (or even 2 year old toddlers!) watching videos on a phone or playing computer games. At this early stage of life, their visual system is forming, making the hazards of blue light even more forceful and risky.

How to safeguard kids’ eyes

Just like you slather sunscreen on their skin to block harmful UV rays, you need to protect kids’ eyes from artificial blue light that shines from digital technology. Blue-light blocking shields are available for the phone, computer, or iPad. These guards can reduce the amount of blue light emissions by as much as 70%.

Limiting screen time is an even better solution! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children 18 months and younger shouldn’t spend any time on a digital device, and kids between 18 months and 2 years should only be allowed minimal access. As children get older, it’s tricky to set a specific amount of daily time – but you should make a strong effort to limit their screen time. Being physical with sports and outdoor play is much healthier for their whole body.

Book an eye exam near you

Children should have a baseline eye exam around age 5 from a qualified pediatric eye doctor. Consideringtoday's spread of technology it's important to help reduce eye strain with iPads. With six offices in Conroe, The Woodlands, and Spring, Greenspoint, Kingwood, Houston, Texas, we offer an experienced eye doctor near you!

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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Amber Draper, Manager

As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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