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ER physician Dr. Travis Stork shares that more and more kids are getting dry eye disease from tablet and smartphone overuse. Dry eye disease occurs when the tears in the eyes are not produced properly and it can cause discomfort, lead to blurred vision, and even more serious problems down the line. This was always more common in older adults but things are shifting.
Dr. Travis demonstrates that staring face kids have when transfixed with the screen; they stop blinking as much and less blinking overtime is a problem! Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon explains blinking has a physiological purpose. Blinking stimulates the gland that is on the outer part of the eye which creates suction and is a collection part for tears; those tears go down into the nose. If you don’t blink, that whole process stops and can lead to dry eye.
The Doctors advocate the 20/20/20 rule: for every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. Relax the eyes and make sure to blink appropriately. And, it doesn’t hurt to stand up and move the body as well! For kids under 2 years old, physicians discourage screen time and after age 2, ideally, limit it to 2 hours per day.
Dr. Ordon says parents should make screen time a privilege that needs to be earned. There should be a time limit for how long kids can use these devices. OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry acknowledges that it is hard for parents because sometimes, that screen is the only thing that will get a kid to stop crying! However, it is important to implement rules around how much time is spent using the screen.