In the past decade, screen-based playtime has become commonplace in households, and the starting age of children’s exposure to technology has progressively become younger. Though there have always been concerns about overexposure, recent research out of the UK may have provided some evidence for those fears.
In a Monday release by StudyFinds, UK-based eye care company Scrivens Opticians revealed a major uptick in the percentage of teens who require glasses and are diagnosed as myopic, commonly known as short-sighted.
Research revealed that 20% of teens aged 13 to 16 in the UK were reported to need glasses in 2012, but that number has since ballooned to 35% in 2018, with at least 66% of those people being diagnosed as short-sighted.
Following this data, researchers surveyed 2,000 British parents, including 678 parents of teens who were between the ages of 13 and 16.
The majority of those surveyed agreed that excessive screen time exposure could be harmful to children overall, and 62% believed such overexposure is detrimental to eyesight specifically. Additionally, 26% of respondents revealed they had never taken their child to an optometrist for a proper examination.
Though the increase in short-sightedness was theorized by researchers to be linked to excessive time spent staring at screens, optometrists from Scrivens Opticians say that additional data is necessary to determine what this may mean for children’s eyesight as they age.
“Children’s eyes continue to grow until early adulthood, and their vision is changing too,” Scrivens optometrist Sheena Mangat noted in a statement. “Because conditions such as short or long sightedness can happen gradually over time, neither children nor parents can ‘see the signs,’ which is why regular eye checks are so important.”
The specialist suggests taking young children to get their eyes tested once a year, adding that it should be on every parent’s “back to school checklist” for their child.