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Is Too Much Screen Time Dangerous For Your Kids?

Screen Time Pros and Cons

Whether it is homework, email, gaming, chatting with friends, searching the web or watching Youtube, kids these days seem to have an endless number of reasons to be glued to a screen. Many parents out there are wondering how bad this can be for their kids and whether they should be limiting screen time. 

There are certainly benefits to allowing your kids to use digital devices, whether it is educational, social or providing a needed break. However, studies show that excessive screen time can have behavioral consequences such as irritability, moodiness, inability to concentrate, poor behavior, and other issues as well. Too much screen time is also linked to dry eyes and meibomian gland disorders (likely due to a decreased blink rate when using devices), as well as eye strain and irritation, headaches, back or neck and shoulder pain, and sleep disturbances. Some of these computer vision syndrome symptoms are attributed to blue light that is emitted from the screens of digital devices.

Blue light is a short wavelength, high-energy visible light that is emitted by digital screens, LED lights and the sun. Studies suggest that exposure to some waves of blue light over extended periods of time may be harmful to the light-sensitive cells of the retina at the back of the eye. When these cells are damaged, vision loss can occur. Research indicates that extreme blue light exposure could lead to macular degeneration or other serious eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness. Studies show that blue light also interferes with the regulation of the the body’s circadian rhythm which can have a disruptive impact on the body’s sleep cycle. Lack of quality sleep can lead to serious health consequences as well. 

Beyond these studies, the long term effects of blue light exposure from digital devices are not yet known since this is really the first generation in which people are using digital devices to such an extent. While it may take years to fully understand the impact of excessive screen time on our eyes and overall health, it is probably worth limiting it due to these preliminary findings and the risks it may pose. This is especially true for young children and the elderly, who are particularly susceptible to blue light exposure. 

How to Protect the Eyes From Blue Light

The first step in proper eye protection is abstaining from excessive exposure by limiting the amount of time spent using a computer, smart phone or tablet - especially at night, to avoid interfering with sleep. Many pediatricians even recommend zero screen time for children under two. 

The next step would be to reduce the amount of blue light entering the eyes by using blue light blocking glasses or coatings that deflect the light away from the eyes. There are also apps and screen filters that you can add to your devices to reduce the amount of blue light being projected from the screen. Speak to your eye doctor about steps you can take to reduce blue light exposure from digital devices. 

As a side note, the sun is an even greater source of blue light so it is essential to protect your child’s eyes with UV and blue light blocking sunglasses any time your child goes outside - even on overcast days. 

The eyes of children under 18 are particularly susceptible to damage from environmental exposure as they have transparent crystalline lenses that are more susceptible to both UV and blue light rays. While the effects (such as increased risk of age-related macular degeneration) may not be seen for decades later, it’s worth it to do what you can now to prevent future damage and risk for vision loss. 

 

ATTENTION:  EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

The Murrysville office will remain closed to 4/1. All services offered through the Greensburg office.

Due to recent recommendations of the CDC, we would like to offer the following check-in procedure:

Thank you for your understanding and help in keeping everyone healthy so we can continue to provide care to our patients.

Doctors and Staff at Eyecare Greengate

COVID-19 ADJUSTED OFFICE HOURS GREENSBURG:

FRIDAY 3/20/2020 11-1PM
SATURDAY 3/21/2020 CLOSED
SUNDAY 3/22/2020 CLOSED
MONDAY 3/23/2020 12-4 PM
TUESDAY 3/24/2020 12-4 PM
WEDNESDAY 3/25/2020 12-4 PM
THURSDAY 3/26/2020 12-4 PM
FRIDAY 3/27/2020 11-1PM
SATURDAY 3/28/2020 CLOSED
SUNDAY 3/29/2020 CLOSED
MONDAY 3/30/2020 12-4 PM
TUESDAY 3/31/2020 12-4 PM

If you are having an emergency, call 724-836-0802and hit option 5

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Thank you for being a valued patient of Eyecare Greengate.

The Murrysville office will remain closed to 4/1. All services offered through Greensburg office.

The safety and well-being of our patients and employees is always our top priority.

We understand that the current coronavirus (COVID-19) is unnerving to all. We are closely monitoring the information from the experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, we are adopting recommendations by these organizations, and doing everything possible to mitigate the risk of developing any kind of illness while you are visiting our office.

We will continue to provide our services as currently scheduled. We are asking both our staff and our patients to communicate with us if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Also, please let us know, if you have traveled to areas where the virus is known to be present. We will be more than happy to help you get your appointment rescheduled for a few weeks from now.

What we are doing:

 

What you can do:

 

COVID-19 ADJUSTED OFFICE HOURS GREENSBURG:

FRIDAY 3/20/2020 11-1PM

SATURDAY 3/21/2020 CLOSED

SUNDAY 3/22/2020 CLOSED

MONDAY 3/23/2020 12-4PM

TUESDAY 3/24/2020 12-4PM

WEDNESDAY 3/25/2020 12-4PM

THURSDAY 3/26/2020 12-4PM

FRIDAY 3/27/2020 11-1PM

SATURDAY 3/28/2020 CLOSED

SUNDAY 3/29/2020 CLOSED

MONDAY 3/30/2020 12-4PM

TUESDAY 3/31/2020 12-4PM

If you are having an emergency, call 724-836-0802 and hit option 5.

Thank you and be well!