A new downside to too much screen time.
A professor of optometry in Montreal says he’s seeing patients at 20 years of age with eyes looking like they’re 50 or 60, and kids as young as 10 showing up with the early symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome.
And he blames tablets and phones and computer screens.
Dr Langis Michaud at Université de Montréal says it has to do with blinking, which ensures the eye does not become dry. Most people, he says, blink 15 times a minute but when they’re playing video games or otherwise locked onto their phones they only blink about five times per minute. Dr Michaud says that’s not enough to keep the eye moist and can lead to dryness, itchiness, irritation or fatigue – a precursor to dry eye syndrome. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent issues ranging from constant discomfort to vision impairment.
The problem is most prevalent in people who stare at screens for eight or nine hours a day.
And it’s not just time spent looking at a screen that’s an issue. The distance between the screen and your face is a factor. The average distance between the eyes and a book is around 40 centimetres, while people hold hold their phones about half that distance from their faces.
Eye specialists recommend no one under the age of two use a tablet or phone. Children between the ages of two and eight should not be on screens more than an hour a day, with a break after 30 minutes.
Having eyes checked an early age can alert optometrists to potential issues and possible remedies.