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Is Too Much Screen Time Ruining Our Kids' Eyesight? 9 Questions A Techie Dad Asked An Eye Doctor
  • Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s is different from how our kids are today.

    Back then, the entertainment that I had was going outside and playing with my kapit-bahays: Patintero, Tumbang Preso, Teks, Langit-Lupa, Luksong Tinik/Baka, and (believe it or not) Chinese garter or Ten-twenty. 

    These days, keeping our children busy and entertained is challenging and at the same time convenient. Challenging because we want to make sure that we provide quality and variety of learning exposure. Convenient because our smartphones and TVs are easily accessible and literally right at our fingertips. Letting them watch from our phones and TVs with streaming devices and YouTube has become an easy fix to address their thirst for entertainment. (I, as a parent, am guilty of this.)

    Signs of vision problem in children you need to look out for

    • Squinting when watching
    • Constantly rubbing their eyes or blinking
    • They watch closer to the screen
    • They watch tv or view something sideways
    • Fatigued with close/near work tasks
    • Headache
    • Misaligned eye

    My kid showed some of these eyesight symptoms as early as 5 years old and it wasn’t just a one-time thing, it happened regularly. She would always go close to the TV, rub her eyes when using the cellphone, squint, and watch the screen sideways. It got me a bit concerned so we decided to have her eyes checked by a professional.

    We decided to go to Maceda Eye Care Clinic. They’ve been our family eye doctor for years and I can personally vouch for the eye care that my family is getting. Let me just say that it is important that you find the right eye doctor your family can trust. 


    Here are some questions I asked Dr. Elaine Maceda-Fernandez

    1. How early should I have my child’s eyes checked for an assessment?

    Dr. Elaine: Ideally, before 7 years old. This is the age when vision becomes stable. But you can also have it checked as early as kindergarten, because kids these days are more exposed to gadgets than ever before.

    2. How often should the checkup be?

    Dr. Elaine: For children, it would be good to have it every school year, and it also depends on the case of the child’s eyes, because their eyesight is still developing.

    3. What are some of the concerns in a child’s eyesight now?

    Dr. Elaine: Patients are getting younger and younger. Gadgets and screens emit blue light and it disrupts the child’s sleeping habits. Getting enough sleep and rest is a big factor in a child’s development.

    WATCH: How Your Baby's Eyesight Develops In His First Year

    4. What can be the long-term effect if they start wearing glasses as early as 5 years old?

    Dr. Elaine: This is a huge problem. Myopia progression could be one of the leading problems. This usually begins in childhood and can continue to worsen into early adulthood. This is a refractive error that causes blurry distance vision.
    There are some cases where there is an intense progression in a span of 1 year. Sometimes, kids as young as 8 years old have negative 400 grade. Severe cases will cause retinal detachment which can lead to blindness. Know that eyesight, nearsightedness, or farsightedness is also passed on.

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    5. What is your recommended screen time for kids?

    Dr. Elaine: I usually follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes of work or screen time, you rest for 20 seconds (the longer the better), and you look at something 20 feet away.

    6. Do blue light filters work on gadgets? Turning the screen a bit yellow.

    Dr. Elaine: If our child is exposed to gadgets and screens all day, there are blue light filter glasses that can add protection to filter the harmful blue light. But know that not all blue light is harmful, there are also some good ones. If your child’s eyes already have a grade, a blue light filter can be added but if your child’s eye is in good condition, there are also non-graded lenses that your child can also wear while in front of the screen.

    7. Should we now accept that at some point, our kids will start wearing eyeglasses?

    Dr. Elaine: Safe to say yes. The glasses will not change the status of the eye. It is just an aid and protection for our eyes.

    8. Any food recommendations to help improve eyesight?

    Dr. Elaine: Any yellow and orange fruits or vegetable that is rich in vitamin A like carrots, squash, kale, mango, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.

    RELATED: Put Your Phone Down! Play Jolen, Yoyo, Jackstones, And More With Your Kids

    9. Any advice that you can share with parents on how we can take care of our child’s eyes better?


    Dr. Elaine: Lessen gadget use and engage in more outdoor activities. Improve sleeping habits. Have a healthy well-balanced diet. Preservatives have something to do with the health and eye wellness of the kids.

    Another thing that stuck with me during my conversation with Dr. Elaine is this:

    “Kids with troubled vision limit what the child can become.”

    This is entirely true. In studies, sports, and other interests, the child’s potential is limited by what they can see. So it is vital that we address the concerns before it gets worse.

    You may consider setting up an appointment with Dr. Elaine Maceda-Fernandez, an advocate for better eyesight, a speaker, and a key opinion leader in the industry. Her clinic is Maceda Eye Care Clinic Located at 27 Panay Avenue Corner Roces Avenue, 1103 Quezon City. You can call them at 8564 0325 for an appointment or reach out to them via Facebook and Instagram.

    Myke is a lone thorn to three beautiful roses: his wife Nix and daughters Riley and Mica. A marketing manager by day, writer and blogger in between. He loves spending time with the family and he's interested in unique experiences. Creativity is his passion and he is always searching for artistry in all forms. Check out his YouTube channel here.

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