Is Eight the New Eighty?


Almost daily I have a parent ask me if frequent use of IPADS or other handheld devices will make their children’s vision worse. It’s a consideration because handheld devices are held much closer to a child’s eyes than tv video games or traditional computer video games.

I believe it is likely that excess use of these handheld devices will cause at least some children to require eyeglass prescriptions sooner, and stronger, than they would have otherwise. And we are also starting to hear about possible cumulative internal ocular damage from blue light emanating from hand held and tabletop computer monitors. (more on this topic in a later blog).

But here’s an observation I recently made. We recently had a patient in her 80’s come in for an eye exam. She was reasonably healthy but her posture was somewhat stooped with rounded shoulders and forward neck/head tilt. It was obvious she no longer had good spinal alignment.

My next patient was a mom whose 8 year old was sitting in a chair in my exam room. The youngster was playing video games on a smart phone. The great thing about that is that the child was totally engrossed during the entire eye exam. But as I looked at that young girl’s posture I realized it was identical to the posture of my previous 80 year old patient – rounded shoulders, head tilted forward, spine out of alignment.

If your child is watching a movie on an IPAD, place it on a table with the IPAD at least 2 feet away from the child rather than right in front of the child. This longer distance makes the child’s accommodative/focusing system not have to work as hard. And, placing the IPAD on a table rather than in the child’s hands means that they will likely use better posture.

Excessive use of handheld devices will likely create neck and back problems because of the “slouch” position that is held for long periods of time. Needing glasses to see better is a problem we can easily fix. Neck and back problems? Not such an easy fix.

Remember it’s an IPAD and not an EYE-PAD. It may be good for the I but not good for the EYES.

Dr. Ally Stoeger provides annual eye examinations, medical eye care, contact lens examinations and Lasik/refractive surgery co-management in the Gainesville-Haymarket area of Virginia.  GH Eye also has a superb collection of frames and high tech lenses.

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