Little girl using digital tablet in bed

The Impact of Digital Devices on Children’s Eyesight

Blue light—it’s a light we see every day, emitted from our digital devices, such as smart phones, tablets, computers, and more. With short wavelengths that release a high energy that can be harmful to the eye, blue light is affecting children’s vision.

Before the age of 10, children’s eyes are not fully developed. With the crystalline lens and cornea still largely transparent and overexposed to light, too much blue light exposure can cause digital eyestrain as well as headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and blurry vision. There are behavioral adverse effects as well: reduced attention span, irritability, sleep pattern disruption, and poor behavior. According to a study by the Kaiser family Foundation, children and teenagers (ages 8–18) spend more than seven hours a day consuming electronic media.

Blue light isn’t the only cause for concern when it comes to technology and pedantic eye care. A Korean study found that the extended use of a smartphone was linked to pediatric dry eye, while outdoor activity proved to protect children from dry eye. The study tracked 916 children, ages 7–12 years old, from urban and rural areas and discovered that 6.6% of these children suffered from dry eye disease. Of those, 97% reported using smartphones for more than three hours daily on average, whereas 55% of the children without any dry eye symptoms used smartphones for only 37 minutes daily on average. Researchers believe the cause of the dry eye is a reduction in blink rate while staring at digital devices.

How to protect your child’s eyes from digital devices:

  • Limit your child’s screen time to two hours per day.
  • Use a blue light filter on a digital device—some digital devices come with a blue light filter built-in, or you can download a blue light filter from your device’s app store.
  • Have your child wear blue light filtering eyewear when using a digital device.
  • Instill in your children the 20/20/20 Rule: take 20 second breaks every 20 minutes by removing your eyes from your reading material and looking 20 feet away into the distance.
  • Have your child spend time outdoors. Studies have shown outdoor activity may reduce vision conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and dry eye in children.

Smartphone use is a risk factor for pediatric dry eye disease according to region and age: a case control study,
BMC Ophthalmology, (last accessed 4.14.17)
Blue Light Exposure and Digital Eye Strain, The Vision Council, (last accessed 4.14.17)