Number of teenagers needing glasses has nearly DOUBLED since 2012 ‘due to youngsters spending so many hours each day staring at screens’
- Opticians said 35% of British 13 to 16 year olds needed glasses in 2018
- They believe it is linked to the 26 hours per week teenagers spend on screens
- The signs of eyes getting weak are not immediately clear, opticians warned
- A quarter of parents admit they do not take their children for regular eye checks
The number of teenagers needing glasses has nearly doubled since 2012, a poll has suggested.
Around 35 per cent of 13 to 16 year olds in Britain were wearing glasses in 2018, up from 20 per cent six years earlier.
Scrivens Opticians, which commissioned the survey, believe it may be down to the amount of time teenagers spend on their screens.
Staring at mobiles, the TV or tablets cause the eyes to strain, which over a long period of time can cause damage.
The number of teenagers needing glasses has nearly doubled since 2012 and could be due to screen-time, according to opticians at Scrivens
Two-thirds of teenagers are being diagnosed as short-sighted, medically known as myopic, according to Scrivens.
The optometrists stressed the importance of regular eye checks, especially because it may not be obvious when eyesight is getting weaker.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
Children may not complain about their sight or recognise symptoms of weaker eyes.
But they may show signs of being unable to see properly.
Things to look out for include:
- Sitting close to the TV
- Holding objects very close to their face
- Blinking a lot eye
- One eye turning in or out
The NHS recommends that you should get your eyes tested every two years at least.
Generally, a person might recognise the following if they have sight problems:
- Severe, sudden eye pain
- Recurrent pain in or around the eye
- Hazy, blurred, or double vision
- Seeing flashes of light or sudden bright floating spots
- Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
- Seeing floating shapes
- Changes in the color of the iris
- Itching, burning, or a heavy discharge in the eyes
Sheena Mangat, an optometrist at Scrivens, said: ‘Children’s eyes continue to grow until early adulthood, and their vision is changing too.
‘Because conditions such as short or long sightedness can happen gradually over time, neither children nor parents can “see the signs”, which is why regular eye checks are so important.
‘For many children they don’t understand what is “normal” when it comes to their vision, so probably won’t know if they are having problems.
In a survey by the same company, a quarter (26 per cent) of parents said they have never taken their child for an eye test.
For under 16 years olds, free eye tests are available on the NHS. Contrary to popular belief, they do not have to be able to read yet in order to have a test.
Parents said it is difficult to draw their children away from their screens, whether it’s their mobiles, TV or video games. Research suggests teenagers typically look at screens for 26 hours a week.
Of the 2,000 parents surveyed, three quarters (73 per cent) said it is a ‘challenge’ to get their children to stop staring at some type of screen for a few hours.
The majority of surveyed parents are at least aware that too much screen time isn’t healthy for their children’s eyes.
A total of 62 per cent said that they believe excessive screen time can harm their children’s eye sight, and two thirds said they try and pry their children away from screens because of it.
Ms Mangat said: ‘Parents always have a long back to school check list, but getting your children’s eyes tested should be a priority.
‘As parents we don’t think twice about taking our kids to the GP should they become ill, or the dentist for regular checks, but arguably an annual eye health examination is just as important.’
More research is needed to determine what all this screen time is really doing to teens’ eyes, especially in the long-term.
However, the opticians did warn that undiagnosed eyesight problems can lead children to ‘fall behind’ at school.
Ms Magnat said: ‘Not only will seeing clearly make reading and writing easier but it will help children’s levels of concentration and remember what is being taught in class.’
Around a third of the parents surveyed had children aged between 13 and 16.