Are phones causing more kids to be nearsighted? Here's what a Miami optometrist sees
Kids are focusing too close for too long and their eyes are actually growing to focus the light for things that are near. But it’s blurring their vision for distance.
Increased exposure to screens, like smartphones and tablets, is causing myopia, or nearsightedness, to become more common among children at younger ages.
"Myopia occurs when your eye actually grows too long," said Vicky Fischer, a pediatric optometrist in Miami. "Children are supposed to be born with a very short eye, because children are short, their eyes should be short, and then they should grow to a normal size when they're adults."
Fischer sees patients as young as 6 months old with vision issues.
The problem is, kids are focusing too close for too long and their eyes are actually growing to focus the light for things that are near. But it’s blurring their vision for distance," she said.
The growth of the eye can increase the risk of glaucoma, macular degeneration and retinal detachments. Children should take breaks every 20 minutes from looking at things up close and spend extended time playing outside.
A recent study, titled "Progression of Myopia in School-Aged Children After COVID-19 Home Confinement," suggests many children risk developing near-sightedness because of a spike in screen time experienced during the pandemic.
Dr. Mohamed Abou Shousha, an eye surgeon at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute within the University of Miami Health System, also recommends that a child's device should not be brighter than the surroundings, that computer screens be 25 inches, or an arm's length, away from the face and that children get eye exams regularly.