Smartphone Causes Ocular Discomfort in Children

Technology has been growing rapidly through the years and has impacted our lives in many ways. Research shows us that children start to zone in on media devices, such as their parents’ tablets or smartphones, as young as 6 months old. As teenagers, they spend nearly 7 hours a day watching TV, playing video games, and using social media.

However, children who excessively use smartphones or tablets to play games may be at long-term risk of developing ocular surface disease and dry eye. Researchers in Australia recently determined that one hour of smartphone use led to increased symptoms of dryness, discomfort, and tiredness in children.

A study was devised with 36 children to assess symptoms and tear film (lipid layer thickness, tear secretion, stability) before and after gaming. Blink rate and interblink interval were also being measured before and continuously throughout gaming.

The overall conclusion presented the children started showing dry eye symptoms and prolonged slowing of blinking, with no change in tear function evident up to one hour. As technology is omnipresent in our lives, researchers should examine whether effects reported in the test endure or get worse over a longer term causing cumulative damage to the ocular surface and what solution can we bring to avoid it.

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