Monthly Archives: August 2014

Will too much screen time make functional vision problems worse?

Will too much screen time make functional vision problems worse?

The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
near Silver Spring, MD in Olney.

Modern technology requires more from a child’s visual processing system than ever before. Compared to a generation ago, kids use their vision in different ways. They spend far less time than their parents did outside on the playground, exploring the outdoors, or enjoying activities that do not involve staring at screens with backlit text and digital images.

Whether it’s for pure entertainment, completing school assignments, or Facetiming with grandparents, screen time has become central to learning, communication, and fun.

From ActivBoards, Promethean boards, and computer screens at school to televisions, smartphones, tablets, and game devices at home, screens demand their attention throughout the day.

But humans don’t evolve as quickly as technology and visual systems can become damaged if we don’t make some effort to limit screen time, especially for children as they develop. Lack of exposure to sunlight and too much screen time can tax even the healthiest vision and affect the development of the eyes, which can even cause or worsen nearsightedness and exacerbate existing functional vision problems.

Surfing the web, watching YouTube, and playing video games can be fun and educational; but if children are looking at screens throughout the day at school and home, their eyes will become tired and their visual processing system can become fatigued.

Download our free guide: “10 Things You Need to Know About Vision” here.

For a child with an existing learning-related vision problem — which all-too-often goes undiagnosed — symptoms of vision problems such as amblyopia, convergence insufficiency, strabismus, accommodative dysfunction, or visual processing deficiencies can become more pronounced.

Signs or symptoms your child has an undetected functional vision problem include:

  • Reversing letters when reading or writing
  • Skipping letters, words, or lines when reading or writing
  • Double vision or blurred vision even with 20/20 eyesight
  • Trouble copying from the board even with 20/20 eyesight
  • Confusing similar looking words
  • Reading below grade level or low reading comprehension skills
  • Messy handwriting
  • Physical problems when reading, such as dizziness and nausea, tiredness, or eye strain
  • Attention or behavior problems that resemble ADD/ADHD
  • Squinting or bending close to the paper to read, covering or closing one eye, or tilting head to an unusual angle while reading
  • Clumsiness, social awkwardness, lack of coordination when playing sports

Too much screen time can increase eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, motion sickness, and other physical symptoms of vision deficiencies. Reading, writing, and school performance becomes even more challenging because the child has had little time to rest their strained visual system.

But cutting your child’s access to technology altogether isn’t the answer. In the 21st Century, being proficient with technology will be important to your child’s long-term success and happiness. Instead, we suggest limiting screen time and encouraging more time in the sunlight or engaging in other types of activities.

If you suspect your child might have a learning-related vision problem, schedule functional vision exam with an optometrist who specializes in developmental vision care and vision therapy as soon as possible.

If your child does have a learning-related vision problem, they can best enjoy technology along with their peers if they have undergone vision therapy training to strengthen their vision system.

If you are in Olney, Maryland, or nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, contact the Visual Learning Center today.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.