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(BPT) - From the moment your kids get up in the morning and turn on cartoons, to the second they finish playing on their iPad before bed, their eyes are looking at digital devices almost nonstop. The blue-light high-energy wavelength emitted from these devices’ screens can damage eyes over time. Eye doctors are reporting a 50 percent increase in digital eye strain and effects of blue light exposure – especially in children, according to a recent survey of VSP Vision Care providers.

Here are five things to be aware of when it comes to digital device exposure and your kids:

1. Early exposure can have long-term effects on those still developing peepers.

3 kids using electronic devices

From video games to laptops to smartphones, children are exposed to device screens starting at a young age, and 38 percent of eye doctors in VSP’s survey reported an increase in effects from blue light exposure in children. The effects of blue light exposure are more intense in children since they lack the protective pigments of adults.

"Kids these days essentially grow up looking at a screen," says Dr. Matt Alpert, a VSP Vision Care optometrist. "There is a growing concern among eye doctors that we're going to start seeing long-term damage much earlier in life than ever before."

2. Screen time can impact sleep time, which can impact other time.

little boy using computer tablet

Blue light exposure can lead to digital eye strain, resulting in kids experiencing headaches and dry eyes. Sleep is affected by blue light as well, particularly when exposure to digital devices occurs at night. It can disrupt children’s ability to fall asleep and alter their sleep-wake cycle. These conditions can negatively impact how they behave and learn.

3. You can’t always control a digital world, but you can take control of a digital home.

boy with large eyes on laptop computer
Parents are increasingly expressing concern to eye doctors about how much screen time their children are getting. Fifty-four percent of eye doctors reported that parents have told them that they are worried about their child’s vision due to their child’s increased use of devices. Decreasing kids’ blue light exposure in the evenings is a good first step, which means turning off the TV or tablet at dinner time instead of just before bed. 

4. One of the most important exams in a child’s school year isn’t administered in the classroom.

An eye exam can help diagnose symptoms of digital eye strain, as well as detect a variety of other health conditions. Kids should receive their eye exams at 6 months, 3 years old, before they start kindergarten and then yearly after that. It’s also a good idea before going to the appointment to create a journal identifying how frequently your child is using a screened device.

5. Protective gear isn’t just limited to outdoor activities.

little girl using smart phone
UNITY lenses with blue light protection can help protect your child’s eyes – as well as your own – from the symptoms caused by the high-energy wavelength emitted from screens. Eye doctors are increasingly prescribing blue-light filtering lenses, about 44 percent more for adults and 24 percent more for children in the last year. UNITY lenses improve visual acuity and night vision, offer better depth and color perception, improve contrast and reduce glare. Your child’s vision will be much healthier when protected by these lenses, so talk to your eye doctor about the best options for protecting your family’s eyes.