The increasing use of smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices by children at an early age, coupled with longer usage periods, has resulted in a rapid deterioration of eyesight. While eyesight is difficult to improve once it worsens, it is also not feasible to prohibit the use of electronic devices altogether. Let’s explore ways to help preserve children’s eyesight.
After using a smartphone for 20 minutes, rest your eyes for at least 50 seconds Myopia, or nearsightedness, is medically known as the condition where the focus should be on the retina but is instead in front of it, due to an elongated eyeball. Near objects are seen clearly, but distant ones are not.
Activities that can cause myopia include long-term focus on a single screen while watching a smartphone video or playing computer games, or lying down and reading a book. These close-range activities, where only one area is focused on for a prolonged period of time, or where the distance between the viewer and the screen is excessively close, impair the eye’s ability to adjust its focus.
To preserve eyesight, it is important to allow the eyes to rest after close-range activities. Professor Mun Yeji, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Seoul Asan Hospital, says that “after focusing on a close-range activity such as watching a smartphone video for about 20 minutes, children should rest their eyes for at least 50 seconds by looking at something far away, such as a view outside a window at least 4 meters away.” He also advised that “environments that are too dark or bright should be avoided as they can cause myopia.”
Moreover, engaging in outdoor activities for around two hours during the day, rather than close-range activities, is much more helpful for maintaining eye health. Research shows that receiving sufficient sunlight increases the secretion of dopamine in the body, which is good for preventing myopia.
If there is any suspicion of deteriorating eyesight, visit an ophthalmologist immediately If a child feels that their eyesight has worsened, it is advisable to visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. Eye exams diagnose refractive errors and enable accurate prescriptions, helping to maintain good eyesight. Professor Mun recommends that “the Korean Pediatric Ophthalmology Society recommends that children visit an ophthalmologist at any age if they suspect any eye abnormalities, and receive an annual eye exam from the age of 3.” He stressed that “since a child’s eyesight development is generally completed around the age of 8-10, it is important to manage their eyesight during kindergarten or elementary school years.”
Some parents may worry that wearing glasses will worsen their child’s eyesight. However, it is not the case at all. It is common for myopia to increase during ages 7-9, as the eyeball elongates. Wearing glasses will not make the condition worse, but instead will enable the child to see clearly.