Bundaberg parents are being encouraged to book their children in for an eye test as new research by Specsavers reveals those under eight spend an average of 2.5 hours a day on screens.
It's more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.
Despite this, and with the increasing prevalence of myopia (short-sightedness) brought on by digital eye strain, almost one in three young children have never had an eye test.
In Bundaberg there are 9,983 children up to nine years of age who could be spending too much time on screens, and unknowingly increasing their risk of myopia.
To ensure every child enjoys a healthy start to the new year local Bundaberg Optometrists are calling for parents and carers to include an eye test on their health check list for the new school year.
Along with the alarming screen time statistics, 86 per cent of parents say they are concerned about the amount of time their child spends on screens and its impact on their eye health.
Bundaberg Sugarland Specsavers optometrist Anna Crossley-Price said eye tests helped to detect and correct or manage any issues, so they don’t go untreated.
“Children’s eyes are still developing during their schooling years, and myopia, or as its more commonly known, short sightedness, is on the rise in children globally,” she said.
“Screen time is typically unavoidable between school, study and entertainment, but I encourage parents and carers to ensure young children get adequate breaks from screens and ‘close up’ work to avoid digital eye strain or developing myopia.
“Children who spend more than three hours a day on screens are more likely to have had their eyes tested as a result of already experiencing headaches and blurry vision.
“If your child complains about headaches, blurred vision, trouble focusing or any other issues with their eyes, I recommend booking an appointment with an optometrist immediately rather than waiting until their next check-up.”
Anna's top tips for digital eye strain include:
- Remind children to blink. Blinking regularly keeps the surface of your eyes from drying out.
- Keep a bottle of water close-by. Your eyes dry out when you’re dehydrated so making sure
children are drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means, every 20 minutes remind children to shift their eyes to
look at an object at least 20 metres away, for at least 20 seconds. The easiest way to do this
is to take small ‘window’ breaks and look out at a faraway object to give tired eyes a break
from the screen.
- Make sure that during the school week, children spend time playing outside or stepping
away from the screen to do another activity to give their eyes a break.
To book your appointment or for more information, go to www.specsavers.com.au.