Healthy Eyes No.3

Mearns Opticians look at the rise of the “Screenager”

December 9, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good gadget? Let’s face it they make our lives so much easier. Just ask Alexa what the weather is doing so that you know what to put on in the morning. But do we really know the long-term affects all this technology is causing – especially when children are using gadgets at a much younger age. Toddlers can swipe an i-pad better than most adults and I am starting to ask my children for help in solving my computer issues… do we need to worry? Mearns Opticians have listed some practical advice on the time spent on electronic devices

But gadgets can be so beneficial – what’s the problem?

Children use different technologies for playing games, chatting to friends, or watching videos. Gadgets can be very educational and children can learn a lot from using technology. However, they are often so consumed by their activity, that they don’t take their attention off the screen, which can adversely affect their vision and general well-being. Staring at screens for extended periods can cause dry eyes, eye irritation and difficulty focusing as well as headaches and general posture problems, which can cause neck and back ache. In addition, most digital screens are backlit and emit blue light which suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. This disrupts the sleep patterns and causes an artificial feeling of wakefulness, which in turn causes eye strain. Digital screens have become an intrinsic (and inevitable) part of life. You can’t keep kids away from them, but you can minimize their impact by following our 10 top tips below:

Protect your children from becoming “screenagers”

1. Limit screen time

Limit the amount of time your children spend in front of a screen daily.

2. Encourage children to play outdoors.

Get children playing outside! Physical interaction with other children is a healthier alternative to sitting in front of a screen and regular play and exercise can help reduce the risk of myopia.

3. Don’t use technology to babysit your children

We’ve all done it but where possible try not to use the TV as a babysitter if you want to get a job done. Instead, keep your children occupied with healthier alternatives like books, role play toys, colouring, lego – the list is endless!

4. Ensure that your child gets enough sleep

The amount of sleep a child needs varies but make sure that your child is getting the right amount of sleep for their age. Sleep allows the eyes to recover from strain.

5. Ask them to take regular breaks and blink often.

To prevent dry eyes, ask your child to blink two to three times whenever their eyes begin to hurt. Eye strain can be reduced by taking small breaks to look at something other than the screen. Most opticians advocate the 20-20-20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes and focus on something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

6. Ensure that children are the right distance from the screen

While using a computer or other personal device, the eye should be at least 20 inches away from the screen. Don’t let children sit too close while watching TV. If your child prefers to sit close to the screen, get his or her eyes tested to rule out a vision problem.

7. Use night settings

Using night settings, if the device in question has them, may help children sleep by reducing the amount of blue light given off by the screen during night-time hours.

8. Don’t let them use gadgets in the dark or in sunlight

Discourage the use of gadgets in a dark room or in bright sunlight. Screen brightness should not be three times darker or brighter than the surroundings. If the device has an auto-brightness mode, enable it. This automatically adjusts screen brightness.

9. No gadgets before bedtime

Make sure digital devices are turned off at least an hour before bedtime – this gives the eyes a chance to recover and the body time to unwind and relax, ready for good quality sleep.

10. Regular eye exams

Take your child for an eye test every year or as recommended by your optometrist. This ensures that their eyes are getting the regular care and attention they need to stay healthy.

As a proud partner of Giffnock Soccer Academy, Mearns Optician offer a 15% discount on all eyewear to all affiliates of the club.

If you’d like more information about protective sports eyewear, please contact Mearns Opticians on 0141 639 2121 or