Children between the ages of two to five should be limited to one hour of screen time a day to prevent eyesight problems like myopia (nearsightedness), said Dr Azura Ramlee, consultant ophthalmologist at Prof Muhaya Eye & Lasik Centre (PMELC).
She added that eyesight problems are becoming more and more common in children due to overexposure of gadget screen light.
Dr Azura said that the Segamat Paediatric Eye Disease Study (SEGPAEDS) by the Ministry of Health (in collaboration with the South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO)/Monash University) discovered that myopia affected one percent of the 1287 participants who were aged four to six.
At age seven it becomes much higher at 9.8 percent, whereas another study has shown that for teenagers aged 15 years old, the rate of myopia has increased to 34.4 percent, said Dr Azura, according to Bernama.
These children were found to have spent an uncontrolled period of screen time on gadgets like cell phones, tablets, and computers. This prolonged exposure to constant glaring light caused them to suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) as well as related problems like blurred vision, dry eyes, tired eyes, and headaches.
She emphasised that eye were not meant for looking at such small screens, especially not at a very close range or for a long time.
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also supports this point, as it discouraged children under the age of two from watching television or videos as it could negatively affect their motor development and delay speech development.
Although electronic devices can be introduced to children, there has to be restrictions on the usage. Parents need to instil discipline in children and set a screen time limit.
Constant Screen Time Leading to Eyesight Problems
A parent, Ryzal Sharif, 40, said that he noticed his six-year-old daughter squinting when looking at the phone screen. After a visit to the doctor, she was found to have myopia and now has to wear glasses.
The doctor also advised him to let his daughter spend more time on outdoor activities instead of with her electronic gadgets.
Suzi Khalid, 35, also had a similar experience when she felt something was wrong with her seven-year-old son’s vision. He was having trouble even copying or writing words to do his homework.
She said that her son was a heavy smartphone user, and would always watch YouTube videos until the phone’s battery died. A doctor diagnosed him with myopia, and advised her to increase his Vitamin A intake with more milk and vegetables like carrots.
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