Blue light from screens will damage kids’ eyesight and other myths busted

Do you need antibiotics if your child has an eye infection? Is too much screen time damaging his eyes? Are sunglasses for kids really necessary? Will your child’s lazy eye correct itself?

Experts from the Alabama Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Medical Association of Alabama, debunk common misunderstandings about children’s eye health.

Myth: You have to get antibiotics to clear pink eye

Truth: Contrary to popular opinion, antibiotics are rarely necessary to treat pink eye. There are three types of pink eye: viral, bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis. Most cases are caused by viral infections or allergies and don’t respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics can be prescribed for bacterial conjunctivitis, but it will depend on the severity of the infection. Mild cases of bacterial conjunctivitis usually clear on their own within 7-14 days without treatment.

ALSO SEE: 5 common childhood eye diseases

Myth: The sun is bad for children’s eyes

Truth: While it’s true that long-term exposure to the sun without proper protection can increase the risk of eye disease, some studies suggest sun exposure is necessary for normal visual development. Kids who have less sun exposure seem to be at a higher risk for developing myopia or near-sightedness. But just to be on the safe side, you can make sure they’re protected by encouraging them to wear UV-blocking sunglasses and sunscreen when they’re outdoors.

Myth: Blue light from screens will damage your child’s vision

Truth: Contrary to what you may have read on the internet, blue light is not blinding you or your screen-obsessed kids. While it’s true that near-sightedness is becoming more common, blue light isn’t the culprit. In fact, we are exposed to much more blue light naturally from the sun than we are from our screens. What is important, is to make sure your child takes frequent breaks.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a 20-20-20 rule: look at an object at least 6 metres away every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.

ALSO SEE: Mom, why you shouldn’t beat yourself up about screen time during lockdown

Myth: Children can’t lose their vision – it only happens when you’re older

Truth: The eyes of a child with a lazy eye may look normal, but this eye condition can steal sight if not treated. Amblyopia (or a lazy eye) is when vision in one of the child’s eyes is reduced because the eye and brain are not working together properly. Strabismus (crossed eyes) is another eye condition that can cause vision loss in a child. Strabismus is when the eyes do not line up in the same direction when focusing on an object.

Myth: All far-sighted kids need to wear glasses

Truth: Most kids are far-sighted early in life. It’s actually normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean your child needs prescription glasses because they use their focusing muscles to provide clear vision for both distance and near vision. Children do need glasses when their far-sightedness blurs their vision or leads to crossed eyes. They will also need glasses if they are significantly more far-sighted in one eye compared with the other, a condition that puts them at risk of developing a lazy eye.

ALSO SEE: Your child’s eyesight development from birth to three years

Myth: There is no difference between a vision screening and a vision exam

Truth: While it’s true that your child’s eyes should be checked regularly, a less invasive vision screening by an optometrist, orthoptist or another person trained in vision assessment of preschool children, is fine for most children. If the screening detects a problem, your child will be referred to an ophthalmologist or other eye care professional.

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