Experts suggest reducing screen time to save eyes


DHAKA, Dec 24, 2018 (BSS) – Spending too much time with digital devices, including television, mobile and tablets, hurts children’s eyesight.

“Normally, school going children who spend more times using computers or mobile phones triple their risk for myopia or nearsightedness,” the President of Ophthalmological Society of Bangladesh (OSB) Dr Deen Mohammad Noorul Huq told BSS.

Myopia or nearsightedness is a refractive error, which means that the eye does not bend or refract light properly to a single focus to see images clearly. In myopia, close objects look clear but distant objects appear blurred, he said.

Children who use mobile phones have a possibility of developing non-malignant tumor in the brain and ear. Children absorb more than 60 percent of the radiation into the brain than adults. Their brain’s thinner skin, tissues, and bones allow them to absorb the radiation twice than the grown-ups, he added.

Rates of myopia have increased worldwide in recent years, Huq, also the former Director General of Directorate General Health Services (DGSH) said, adding, one of the reasons of this problem of increasing amount of time kids are spending more time in front of screens.

“The reason why that’s a problem is not so much that the device is sending some magic signals to the eye that’s damaging it, it’s that when you’re on those devices you tend to be inside and not outdoors in the sunlight,” Ava Hossain, Vice President of Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) told BSS.

Sunlight plays an important role in protecting vision, as it triggers dopamine (organic chemical) to send signals to other nerve cells and a neurotransmitter which keeps the eye from getting too elongated during childhood, she said.

Some estimates show that children between the ages of 2 and 8 spend an average of two to three hours a day on screens, they said adding, “So far, the only antidote believed to protect children’s eyes is for them to spend less time on screens”.

“It’s really about limiting the time and encouraging them to get outside in the sun,” she said adding, “No screen protector is going to make any real difference.”

And while sitting too close to the television won’t damage eyesight — that’s an old wives’ tale — it may be a warning sign that your child is suffering from myopia, said the experts.

Other signs include squinting and loss of attention.

If they used to be very interested in reading or drawing and all of a sudden they’re not interested or if they’re reading and keep losing their place, those are signs that there might be a vision problem, They said.

To avoid the problems, the experts urged to remove television from the bedroom.

Take the TV out of your room and your child’s room. Screen time at bedtime has been shown to influence sleep patterns and lead to less sleep and increased behavior problems, they said.

Ban electronics from the dinner table for making the mealtime an electronics-free zone – no TV, no smartphone, no tablet on the table. Eating with screens on makes kids more likely to consume more calories.

At the mealtime, the experts suggested to take the time to find out what happened in your child’s day instead of reading posts about what’s happening in other people’s lives.

The experts suggested putting limitations on screen time. According to them a child should not keep watching on screen more than two hours.