It is feared that children spend too much time in front of the screen Image Credit: Supplied. For illustrative purpose only

Dubai: Over-exposure to screen time in recent weeks has resulted in a significant rise in complaints of eye issues such as redness and tired eyes, especially among children and young adults, claim eye specialists.

As per the World Economic Forum, globally around 1.2 billion children are out of classrooms, raising concerns over constant exposure to devices and their impact on eye health. Across the UAE, nearly 1.1 million students have been studying from home since March 2020.

According to Dr Mohit Jain, Specialist Ophthalmologist at RAK Hospital, students may be suffering from ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ and there is a need to minimise damage to the eyes.

Dr Jain said: “Using digital devices has become unavoidable. However, when we focus on a screen, the muscles in the eyes contract. If the muscles stay contracted for too long, they get tired and lead to strain and may affect eyesight, especially in the growing age. This excessive use of devices not only puts a strain on the eyes but is also a risk factor for eye weakness and myopia. In other words, students staring at screens for prolonged periods may end up wearing glasses, and if they are wearing glasses already, the power may increase rapidly,” warned Dr Jain.

More severe consequences of prolonged screen-time can be blurred vision, neck pain, irritated eyes, dizziness, double vision and difficulty in refocusing eyes.

Blink more often

Discussing tips on ways to moderate the excessive use of devices, Dr Jain advised that parents – as a first step – need to restrict the use of devices when it comes to entertainment and amusement. “More importantly, children need to follow the 20-20-20 rule to give their eyes a much-needed break from watching the screen – that is, after every 20 minutes of screen time; they should look away and stare at a distance of approximately 20 feet for 20 seconds before looking back at the device. This helps to relax the eye muscles,” he said.

Dr Jain said the visual impact of screen learning prompt children to stare at screens for longer periods. “Children tend to blink far less than they would usually do causing the eyes to dry out. Blinking keeps the eyes moist and clean. Therefore, parents should encourage their children to blink at regular intervals, even if it requires constant repeated reminders. A simple tip to do that is to stick a reminder note to the device itself,” added Dr Jain. He also advised parents to ensure that children and young adults should keep their devices at a safe distance of 18 to 26 inches to avoid “over-contracting” the eye muscles.

Tips for eye protection

Make sure there is ample natural light in yur child’s room when he or she is in a digital class.

Students need to follow the 20-20-20 rule ie take a break from the computer every 20 minutes and stay at a distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds to relax the eye muscle

Ask your child to blink more often when working on the computer

If there is redness, rashness , take care to provide medical attention

Go for eye check-ups regularly and get your child’s vision assessed regularly so that he does not strain the eyes when he needs to correct his vision or when he needs an updraged number