MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - All that screen time can impact your child's ability to learn. As the new school year approaches, students will need to use those digital devices to get their work done, putting them at risk for hurting their vision.
The effects of screens differ from person to person. Local eye doctor Fouad Allouch said the higher the contrast of the screen and the brightness of it has a lot to do with hurting your eyes. Side effects like nearsightedness and headaches can happen.
He said to have your kids do more activities that require them to pay attention to things farther away, instead of looking straight down at a phone. Our eyes aren't designed to continually focus, Dr. Allouch said. Instead of treating those headaches with medicine, get to the root to of the problem: too much screen time. He said to even consider tinted glasses for your child and yourself. His best advice is to follow the 30/30 rule.
"Take a break for at least 30 seconds and stare as far away as they can to relax the muscles if the visual system...and that will help prevent the muscles from spasming and creating the headaches you usually get related to visual devices up close," Dr. Allouch said.
He added nearsightedness is becoming an epidemic. Giving yourself a break from computer screens can help yourself from falling victim to it.
Keeping up with your eye exams, especially for children, can help prevent long-term eye issues and even behavior issues.
"She was doing really well in school and then all of a sudden she wasn't doing well in school and the parents were just wondering if anything with the vision was happening," Dr. Allouch said about a patient when describing an example of kids not realizing their vision has gone bad.
Dr. Allouch said it's happening more and more. Kids can't see the board, so they ask classmates what's written down or they just don't pay attention at all, and their grades slip. It's important to catch vision problems early, he added, before it leads to something more long-term. He said what parents and teachers should look for when diagnosing a possible vision issue.
"And some of the best symptoms to look for in a child are squinting, bringing screens really close to their eyes to see, complaints of frequent headaches, picking one eye to look with instead of both eyes," Dr. Allouch said. Also, look for a child tracking words with his or her finger while reading, or moving their head from side to side.
Optometrists say children should visit an eye doctor at least once every two years, although South Carolina law does not require it. At many practices, doctors will take off their white lab coats to make a new doctor's visit less intimidating. Dr. Allouch said many doctors are accommodating to make a child's doctor's visit easier.
If you want to book your child an eye appointment, just call an office and set one up.