The explosion of screen based technology means that today's children are truly growing up in a cyber age. But as technology evolves at lightning speed, can the human eye adapt to cope with it as quickly? And what can parents do to protect their children's eye health? You might not think the answer lies in sleep - but with overnight vision correction contact lenses, it really does.
Children now spend around 7 hours a day staring at computers and mobile phones, and less time in natural light , which is having a detrimental impact on their eyesight. In fact, there has been a sudden increase of over 66% in cases of short-sightedness (myopia) which can be attributed partly to modern living.
A recent survey by Child Wise of 2445 British Children states children watch more than two and a half hours of TV a day, plus nearly two and a half hours online or playing computer games, more than twice the number of hours they spend in school and considerably more time than they spend with their parents.
Two in three children over five have their own computer (62%) and nearly half have internet access in their own room (46%). 62% of children have a TV in their bedroom and 70% of five to sixteen year olds and 97% of over 11's have a mobile phone. The poll suggests that two thirds of children go online most days and children are spending 13 million hours on websites each day.
Our tech savvy children are also adept at multi-tasking, watching TV, listening to their iPod whilst texting and gaming is common, raising their exposure to screen time to nearly 11 hours a day according to a US report.
However, there is now a revolutionary new technology that means an end to wearing glasses and contact lenses during the day, overnight vision correction (OVC).
Overnight vision correction contact lenses are made using a unique computerised map of the eye surface and are specially designed to sleep in. They gently flatten the cornea altering the angle at which light enters the eye so it focuses correctly on the retina. By holding the eye in the correct shape as the eye develops the lens acts like a dental brace. When the lenses are removed in the morning, full vision correction is maintained for over 24 hours. The lenses can be worn at any age but for children the additional benefit of stabilising their prescription before it becomes too high is significant. In the long term those with high degrees of short-sightedness are more likely to develop retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts.
Jennifer Golden, CEO of i-GO Optical explains, "As children grow, their eyesight is also developing rapidly. Children need a sharp clear image in each eye in order for their vision to develop properly, if anything upsets that balance it could affect their visual development."
With rising levels of myopia and one in five children aged five to 15 years and one in three children aged 16 - 19 years now needing vision correction , most prefer to use either glasses and many parents do not realise that children can wear contact lenses.
Jennifer Golden, CEO of i-GO Optical, continues, "Whilst i-GO lenses are still relatively new here in the UK, there are now over 100,000 people wearing them worldwide. They have major benefits for children because of the added freedom and confidence it gives them at school and more importantly in their ability to potentially arrest further development of myopia."
Shelly Bansal, a specialist contact lens practitioner in Middlesex shares his top tips for eye health in children:
• Children should have their eyes checked before starting school at three or four years old.
• Young children may not realise they have blurred vision. If your child frowns, squints a lot or has trouble seeing the TV, he or she may have short-sightedness and should be assessed by an Optician.
• If your child cannot see 3D effects or are experiencing any other visual symptoms or complaining of headaches it's worth a check with an optometrist.
• Balance the educational need for children to become familiar with computers at an early age with their overall development.
• Ensure your child follows the 20-10 rule - 10 seconds rest for every 20 minutes of screen time.
• Make sure screen time does not take over from other educational activities such as outdoor play, art, books and music. All these activities allow children to develop their vision.
For further information, images, case studies or experts please contact:
Louise Wilkinson, White Rose PR
Tel: 07815 307592
About i-GO Overnight Vision Correction
• The SMART Study uses i-GO OVC contact lenses the trademark for a US patented contact lens made by Euclid Systems Corp and has been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration
• Suitable for all ages, around 75% of all short-sighted people are suitable - prescriptions up to -5.00D with astigmatism less than 1.50D.
• Initial design and fitting is from £200 plus £40 per month.
• A European CE marked medical device available in prescription through accredited opticians.
• Children can claim a NHS allowance against the treatment.
• Interested consumers can visit www.igolenses.co.uk or contact 0844 7362579