A recent study by Optical Express has discovered some particularly worrying statistics about the eye health of children—with more than 40% of parents admitting that their child suffers from headaches after spending time in front of an electronic screen.
As a result, Optical Express is urging parents to get the eye health of their children checked regularly.
The impact of long periods staring at screens
Since the explosion of digital technology like laptops, games consoles and television, more and more parents have found themselves wondering about the impact of such devices on the health of their children.
With similar studies confirming that children are spending longer than ever using electrical devices, Optical Express decided to carry out a study into the levels of use of these types of technology amongst children to investigate if there was reason to be worried about their eye health.
The study and its findings
The researchers polled 2,038 parents across the UK, all who had at least one child aged 16 and under. 50% of parents had a child who wore glasses or contact lenses. 38% said their children had worn glasses or contact lenses for around 1-5 years.
To begin with, all parents were asked how often their child watched television. 59% of parents answered every day. Asked about their child’s computer use, 40% said their child used a laptop or PC every day, whilst 18% said, “between 2—4 times a week”.
Questioned about their child’s use of other electronic devices, 44% revealed that their child used a smartphone or mobile phone every day. 22% of parents stated that their child played video games more than five times a week.
When asked about how often their child used a tablet, 33% of parents said, “every day” and 29% said, “between 2—4 times a week”.
All parents were then asked, “To the best of your knowledge, during a typical school day, how often are your children subject to an electronic screen?” The majority of 44% said “4 hours+”. They were also asked how many hours during a typical weeknight their child spent in front of an electronic screen. 24% answered “3 hours+”, whilst 16% said it was more than 4 hours.
Next, all parents were asked “To the best of your knowledge, during a typical school day, how often is your child subject to an electronic screen?” with the majority (47%) answering “4 hours +”. Parents were also asked how many hours during a typical weeknight their child spent in front of an electronic screen. Almost a quarter (24%) answered “3 hours +” whilst 16% said it was more than 4 hours.
All parents were also asked if their child ever complained of suffering headaches, after long periods of time in front of an electronic screen. 43% said that this had happened with their child before. Asked about which electronic devices might have contributed the most to the headaches of their child 27% answered “tablet device”, 23% “television”, 19% “video game console” and 15% “smartphone”.
Check the health of your child’s eyes
The findings of our study are particularly unsettling. They suggest that an increasing amount of children could be potentially damaging their eyes.
If your child experiences headaches after spending a lot of time in front of screens it could suggest that they have a hidden vision problem. Staring at a screen for long periods of time could make this worse.
Responding to the findings of the study, the Chief Medical Director of Optical Express, Dr Steve Schallhorn, said: “Although parents want to make their children’s health and happiness their number one priority, it can be all too easy to overlook issues with their optical health and vision.
“Not paying attention to these warning signs could result in long term vision problems as your child gets older.
“Sometimes, headaches bought on as a result of prolonged exposure to an electronic screen will indicate that a child has an underlying problem with their eyesight, and these should not be ignored.”
Dr Schallhorn says, "After these findings, we here at Optical Express are urging parents who have even the slightest concerns about their child’s eye health, or those whose children haven’t been tested for a while, to take them to a local opticians during the Christmas holidays in order to put their minds at rest.”
Book an eye test today
Experts recommend that you check the health of your children’s eyes at least once every two years. To book an eye test for you and your children today please click here or give us a call on 0800 023 20 20.Book an eye test today