PARENTS who allow their children to use digital devices without protection are exposing them to irreversible eye damage, according to leading optometrists.

Kids are nearly inseparable from computers, tablets, video games, mobile phones and TV screens these days.

Unfortunately, they are staring into damaging, brain-crippling blue light emitted from these devices as they listen to music, watch TV, check social media, take selfies and play video games.

Doctors and optometrists say this is causing an “enormous” increase in child patients complaining of eye strain and dry eyes, caused by the close proximity of the screens and excessive time spent looking at them.

Studies and tests from Harvard University, the National Sleep Foundation and the Institute of Health prove children are suffering from overexposure to light.

With the explosion of handheld technology in the past ten years, studies warn damaged retinas in children from blue light would likely become “an epidemic”.

“What worries me is we are giving tablets and phones to children as young as two to play with and over years we really don’t know what the ramifications might be,” says Dr Kokkinakis of The Eye Practice.

“Unfortunately we are going to be experts in hindsight.”

Kids live in a 24/7 digital media technology world.

They spend far more time with media technology than any other thing in their life.

WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT?

Blue light is what’s used in just about every digital screen because it produces brighter and more colourful images as well as being energy efficient. It has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy.

WHY BLUE LIGHT IS DANGEROUS

Blue light reaches deeper into the eye.

Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to blue light could cause serious long-term damage to your eyes.

This can include eye fatigue, headaches, poor sleep, diabetes, obesity - even cancer.

Room light not only suppresses melatonin production, but it could also impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure and glucose homeostasis

Exposure to blue light in people appears to have an impact on mood.

Lower melatonin - from exposure to blue light - is linked with higher rates of depression.

Blue light exposure may increase the likelihood for cataracts and macular degeneration.

WHY CHILDREN ARE MOST IN DANGER

Adult eyes have a natural defence: as we age the lens starts to yellow, which then acts to block out some of the blue light.

But children’s eyes are still developing. So blue light is able to penetrate much more efficiently and directly into a child’s retina.

Dr. Dave Lee, from the Children’s Eye Center, told Fox News: “As we get older, the lens in our eyes naturally gets a little bit more yellow. That acts as a natural filter for that blue light.

“But children have little or no yellowing to their lens so they don’t have that natural protection.”

HOW BLUE LIGHT DISRUPTS YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP

If your child has trouble falling asleep, tosses and turns in the night, or wakes up feeling tired and irritable, it could be because of too much blue light exposure.

Blue light is especially disastrous at night because it prevents your body from creating melatonin, which helps you sleep.

Scientists say artificial light, particularly blue light, fools the brain into thinking it’s still daytime.

“Chronic exposure to artificial light at the wrong time of the evening is dangerous to your health,” Dr. Michael J. Breus says.

“The disruption of healthy sleep cycles is linked to elevated risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, as well as to psychological stress and depression.”

72%

of kids aged eight and younger have used tablets or smartphones

33%

of kids under two use tablets

80%

of learning in the first 12 years comes through their eyes

74%

of teens aged 12-17 access the internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally

75%

of 12 - 15-year-olds use spend at least two hours a day watching TV and using a computer

15%

of teens watch four or more hours of TV daily

12%

percent of teens use their computers for four or more hours a day

53%

of tweens - kids 8 to 12 - have their own tablet

67%

of teens have their own smartphones

93%

of teens have a computer or access to one

Mobile devices account for 41% of all screen time for tweens and 46% for teens

Children and teenagers (ages 8-18) spend more than 7 hours a day consuming electronic media

Teens spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment

Some 13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day

If constant exposure to blue light from tablets, smartphones and computer screens is an issue, there are a few ways to decrease exposure to blue light:

Screen
1. Screen time

Try to decrease the amount of time children spent in front of these screens and/or insist they take frequent breaks to give their eyes a rest.

Glasses
2. Blue-light blocking glasses

Glasses with orange-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease computer digital eye strain.

Many health-conscious “biohackers” have taken to wearing orange-tinted Swannies Blue Light Blocking Glasses, which they say filters out the specific blue wavelengths of light shown to cause insomnia.