CHICAGO (CBS) -- Screens are the new pandemic when it comes to children's eyes. That's the message from a board-certified optometrist.
"Screens are completely ruining our kids' eyes and brains."
Dr. Bryce Appelbaum is an optometrist board-certified in vision therapy and a graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry. He says the amount of time children are spending on their computers, tablets, and phones is creating a generation of near-sighted young people.
"We live in a three-dimensional world, and we should be engaging in three-dimensional space and yet kids are being exposed to screens in technology earlier than ever before and being asked to read at earlier and earlier ages before they're visually ready."
Appelbaum says children are reading before they're even in kindergarten now. While that may sound great to some, he says before age six, children don't have the visual foundation to support that.
"With technology and screens and facetiming and tablets and phones, you know, we see infants that are staring at screens all day long and getting this crazy dopamine hit from what's being presented and we're not, we don't have the brain development and the visual development to support that."
Some of the warning signs that screens are taking a toll…
"Children aren't learning how to engage with humans, interpersonal communication. From a vision standpoint, we're noticing vision and eye strain and visual fatigue and environmentally induced near sightedness. We're adapting to up close because that's where the stress is and that means, far away becomes blurry."
So, what's the solution? Children should take breaks.
"At the maximum, we don't spend more than 20 minutes on a device without looking away and resting our eyes for 20 seconds at something at least 20 feet away."
Dr. Appelbaum says optometric vision therapy - which is like physical therapy for the eyes - can help children support their continued use of screens.
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