《TAIPEI TIMES》 Too much screen time can hurt kids’ eyes: specialist
A student looks at a tablet screen while participating in an online class in Taipei on June 1. Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
By Liao Hsueh-ju and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Remote learning can place increased strain on children’s eyes and parents should supervise the amount of time they spend in front of a screen during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Hsinchu-based ophthalmologist said.
Taiwan’s level 3 COVID-19 alert means that schools nationwide remain closed and have shifted to online classes.
Chen Ying-shan （陳瑩山）, a doctor at China Medical University Hospital’s Hsinchu Branch, said that he recently treated a high-school student whose sight declined from minus-1.5 to minus-3.5 diopters since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
The child had been learning from home and spent too much looking at screens, which created tension in the ciliary muscles and an overabundance of blood in the eye tissue, he said.
This can result in worsening myopia, fatigue and soreness of the eyes, he said, adding that eye drops taken nightly relieved the soreness the student was experiencing, while rest might reverse some of the vision loss.
A child learning from home should take a 10-minute break for every 30 minutes of online classes and should be made to leave their desks, do eye exercises, stretches and walk around the home, he said.
Resting the eyes means not using devices with screens, especially cellphones, which have a smaller screen than computers and are more tiring on the eyes, he said.
Lutein, which is found in leafy greens and egg yolks, is good for the eyes, he said, adding that about 6 to 10mg should be ingested per day, or about the amount contained in a bowl of spinach.
Moderate amounts of protein and five types of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily, and deep-fried foods should be avoided, he said, adding that trans fats can harm eye health by hardening the blood vessels.