Ophthalmologists warn about the worrying consequences of excessive screen use

Ophthalmologists warn about the worrying consequences of excessive screen use

Ophthalmologists warn about the worrying consequences of excessive screen use


“Today our children are experiencing a pandemic within a pandemic, which refers to the excessive use of electronic devices.” This warning was expressed by ophthalmologist Carlos Utrera, a cornea specialist, who added that a pandemic of childhood myopia could be generated, mainly in school-age children.

Luz Dary Depablos / Correspondent lapatilla.com

Until a few years ago, myopia was a recurring condition mainly in adults, but in Asian countries where access to electronic devices is more affordable, cases began to increase in children. This situation also began to be observed in Latin America after the pandemic, when millions of infants had to undergo social isolation and the alternative was the use of these devices.

The cornea specialist alerted parents and guardians to begin limiting the use of devices in children. He emphasized that children under three years old should not use screens and children over three years old of school age should only use devices (cell phones, tablets or video games) for at most 45 minutes a day.

“Imagine what that means on a daily basis, and how our children’s hyperactivity is controlled,” he said.

He explained that it is not only about limiting the use of electronic devices, but also that children have access to open environments, playing sports, as this allows their eyes, which are in training and growing, to have as a stimulus “start to see from afar”.

He recalled that “the human eye is designed to see in light, not to see light. So, every time we use electronic devices we are focusing radiation towards our eyes, our retinas, our crystalline lenses.”

On-time check up eyesight appointments

Initially, some children were characterized as hyperopic, that is, with a vision disorder in which vision is blurry up close, which is why the use of lenses or glasses is mandatory from an early age. “In our day-to-day consultation, it was normal for children to be farsighted, now we find myopic children more frequently.”

He pointed out that for this condition that is on the rise, “there are new techniques, new procedures, not only with activities, but with medications such as atropine and other eye drops, the use of lenses with special materials to avoid myopia,” so it is It is of great importance that parents and guardians who are aware of the excessive use of screens in their children should regularly take them to the ophthalmologist in order to rule out any ocular development in children and thus correct it in time.

Exercises for children and adults

“There is an increase in cataracts, retinal pathologies, and macula problems, and these are associated with the use of electronic devices, so it is recommended that those who wear glasses have protective filters for the use of electronic devices, and when they use them “If possible, try to lower the brightness, that is, the intensity of the radiation that the eye receives,” said Utrera.

Carlos Utrera specified that the use of screens more frequently generates asthenopia or fatigue in adults, also called eye fatigue, due to dryness in the eye or fatigue in accommodation.

“Every adult patient who handles electronic devices should, if possible, apply a very simple, very basic technique: the 20 / 20 / 20 technique, that is, every 20 minutes, the person should rest for 20 seconds, looking at 20 feet ( 6 meters away) to relax or give the eye a rest, because you are always working at 0 or 40 centimeters and the eye is designed to see further away than up close,” he highlighted.

On the other hand, Jorge Jaramillo, President of the Colombian Association of Ophthalmology, originally from Venezuela’s Carabobo State and currently based in Medellín (Colombia), specialized in cataract and presbyopia surgery, also explained that during the pandemic and now with electronic devices, there is an increase of complaints of “dry eyes, we spend many hours in front of devices and do not blink.”

He noted that “the eye remains in attention and so the natural blinking has diminished. This causes the ocular surface, that is, the cornea, to be more exposed to the environment, to the dryness of a fan, an air conditioner, and the cornea begins to have little pores or holes, which is dry keratitis.”

He clarified that “there is a myth about using the device at night or with the light off in the room. It has been proven that blue wave radiation does not produce wear and tear on the internal structures of the eye, but rather produces fatigue. Even the cold light that we use in places such as work and study produces more fatigue than ocular alterations, because the “Cold blue or white light changes our body’s circadian cycle.”

New technologies and faster recovery

Among the new technologies for operating cataracts is modern phacoemulsification technology, which allows surgeries to be performed in less time, that is, they can take between 8 and 10 minutes.

Jorge Jaramillo assures that they are safer, because they help keep the structure of the eye intact, since no other structure in the eye is altered but the lens, which is what is going to be changed for a modern intraocular lens, he said.

He pointed out that with new advances, the anesthesia that is being used is in drops, “there is no longer a need to inject the eye or perform general anesthesia. This helps speed up recovery and allows patients to be given close, intermediate and distance vision without glasses after surgery.