Eye damage from staring at screens

2017-07-24 13:45
Parents warned to not ignore their kids sore and itchy eyes.

Parents warned to not ignore their kids sore and itchy eyes. (File)

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Irritable children who have trouble performing at school may be suffering the effects of too much exposure to blue light radiating from technological devices.

The closeness and intensity of blue light radiating from devices like iPads, cell phones and televisions can lead to serious eye strain — and even blindness in later life.

Eyesight expert Ruahan Naude said his company, Dynamic Vision, has seen an increase in the number of clients complaining of sore and tired eyes, reduced concentration and even sleeplessness as a result of too much exposure.

The company has also seen an increase in the number of children complaining of those symptoms.

A report by global advertising agency We Are Social, which looked at digital habits worldwide, said South Africans spend on average five hours a day staring at some kind of screen.

“The problem with blue light in devices is that it is artificial and closer to the eye. The energy [radiated] can cause damage to cells in the retina.

“So long term, you find that your eyes are bad because cells have died. You can lose your central vision and nothing can be done once those cells die.

“When your device like an iPad is just 10 cm to 15 cm away, the concentration [of blue light] is very intense and that can damage the eye. Also people at work spend hours in front of a screen and that is a problem.”

He said people should not ignore symptoms like burning or itchy eyes and headaches toward the front of the head.

Naude said blue light can cause sleeplessness because it stimulates the brain and keeps it awake for two hours after use. “This is especially bad for kids, who need eight to 10 hours of sleep a day.

“We also see it with children who have learning disabilities. They complain that their eyes are burning and they can’t see the blackboard.”

When it came to intervention, Naude said prevention is better than cure.

He recommended exercising the eyes by moving them from side to side and in a circular motion. “Keeping the screen about 50 cm to 70 cm away from your eyes would also be good,” he said.

Psychologist Kevin Fourie said adults need to take the responsibility of limiting children’s time with devices.

“Giving them carte blanche and saying it’s okay to spend all day in front of the TV isn’t healthy. There can be time for that but they must be doing other things. There’s a lot of parental advocation with this because it is easy to dump a child in front of the TV.

“A parent needs to get involved with a child. If you do other stuff with them, like kicking a ball around or taking them to the gym, then they will be motivated to join extramural activities.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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