Kids and screen time, will it strain their eyes?

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 8:24 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As kids transition back to school and for many of them doing so virtually, that could put a strain on their eyes, but not in the way you might think. Dr. Bob Arnold, a Pediatric Ophthalmologist in Anchorage said, “The light in the screen’s not going to damage you, staring too much is going to be a problem.”

He said one of the most important parts of the eye is not the eye itself, it’s the tears. When people blink, there are 3 layers protecting the eyes. You have the mucus layer, saltwater and oil from the eyelid.

“When it’s all perfect, we can blink, open our eyes and have a perfect little layer that will last 20 or 30 seconds as a protection for the eye,” he said.

However, when people stare at the screen too long, that tear film won’t last as long and that’s when your eye can start to get uncomfortable.

“If it gets uncomfortable, it pours out extra saltwater that rinses away the mucus and the oil and all of a sudden our tears only last 8 seconds or 9 seconds,” said Dr. Arnold.

He recommends 10, 10, 10 meaning look away from the screen at something 10 feet away for 10 seconds and blink 10 times. When you go back to work, your eyes will be a lot better protected.

Meredith Vorhies is a parent and teacher who lives in Kodiak. She was at Dr. Arnold’s office to have her daughter Ava’s eyes checked. Something she’s been doing since she was a year and half old.

“I feel like it’s really important to get checked frequently, every six months we get checked and there’s always a strain even just reading and I feel like kids in general there’s always a strain but it definitely is enhanced by the tablet and all the technology,” said Vorhies.

Dr. Arnold said screens can also be addicting, so the more you can fit in those breaks, the better for the eyes and for teachers trying to make that connection.

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