The extended use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets by children is likely to have adverse permanent effects on their eyesight. In what appears to be a new problem for the youngest generation, frequent and prolonged use of these devices is becoming more and more common.
According to Dr Geetha Srinivasan, senior consultant, pediatric ophthalmology, ICARE Hospital, “The trend is extremely disturbing. We are getting kids as young as three who have eye problems because of watching videos, TV and movies. Parents complain that the kids do not eat if they are not allowed to watch TV."
Digital displays have existed for longer than some of these children have been alive, which raises the question of why these problems are only now gathering the attention of the medical community. The truth, though, is that the dangers posed by the light emitted from these types of screens has been known for some time. But the risk of permanent damage is lower in adults that it is in children, who have only begun using digital devices on a large scale in recent years.
Another factor is the amount of time spent using mobile devices. Short usage sessions with frequent breaks are the most effective way of limiting exposure risks, but many children are allowed to use phones and tablets for hours at a time without interruption.
Research shows that the blue light emitted from digital displays is effective in limiting melatonin production, the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Affecting the sleep cycles of children is known to have adverse affects on both physiological and mental development.
This means that kids who spend too much time on their phones and tablets may not just develop permanent vision problems, but they may also begin to fall behind in both the classroom and in extracurricular sports.