Morning Rounds: Screen time and vision damage

NORFOLK, Va. - According to the National Eye Institute, nearsightedness has skyrocketed in America in recent years.  Doctors believe it is linked to the increased amount of time we spend on computer, television and phone screens.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only two hours of screen time per day for children," said Dr. Ryan Light on News 3 This Morning.  "Too much screen time increases dry eyes (causing a burning sensation of the eyes), eye strain, posture problems, and leads to headaches.

"This constellation of symptoms is referred to as computer vision syndrome. Too much screen time leads to problems with distance vision which may require glasses, contacts, or surgery for correction," he explained.

Dr. Light explained that children who have too much screen time often lack the appropriate amount of sunlight exposure.

"Sunlight is required for proper eye development," he said.  "Without sunlight exposure, myopia (nearsightedness) occurs, causing problems with distance vision, resulting from the lack of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is released during sunlight exposure."

Dr. Light said you can limit the negative impact of prolonged screen exposure.

"Take frequent breaks when using these devices," he said.  "Teach your children the 20 20 20 rule. Every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to stand up, change posture and look at something 20 feet away. Go outside during these breaks."