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Medical Edge: Screen Time

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) --Could all those hours your kids spend each day in front of a screen be hazardous to their eyes?

It's not unusual for Alexandra Pohl, who is now 13-years-old, to spend a lot of time in front of a screen each day.

She says, "Probably about an hour, an hour and  half a day."

But that's mild perhaps compared to what her brothers, Cameron and Connor, may add up on electronic devices each day.  Cameron Pohl is 11-years-old and in the 5th grade.  Connor is 14 and in the 8th grade. 

He tells us, "I usually go on YouTube and search things on the internet, and on lap tops.  I usually play games, and on the PX IV I like to have fun and play Call of Duty."

Not to mention they all have homework now often submitted electronically just about every day.

Connor said, "A lot of my projects now are pretty much computer based, I have to a lot of brochures and power points."

In this house they seem to do a pretty good job of breaking that screen time up but some studies according to the American Academy of Pediatrics say some children spend up to 5 to 6 hours of interrupted hours at a screen per day.  Which raises the question, what is that doing to a child's eyes?  And could it be playing a role in nearsightedness or a need for glasses?

Right now it appears if you talk to child eye experts we really don't know the direct impact of these electronic devices have on vision or child eye development.  Doctor Walker Motley says  we don't have a lot of studies directly linking the two.

"But what is a really common study result is that children who tend to spend more time indoors rather than outdoors tend do have more myopia which  is nearsightedness," Dr. Motley said.

We also know that as kids sit more the risk for other health problems which can influence sight, such as obesity, also goes up.  But when it comes to the actual electronic devices and the screen directly interacting with the eye and the visual system there is not good data to connect the two in terms of vision problems.

Dr. Motley says when it comes to the numbers of  kids who are nearsighted, "It has been a trend upwards over the last number of decades, but in the last one to two decades it's hard to draw these conclusions."

 So the doctor suggests what Alexandria likely already knows, "I try to tell myself not to get on the phone because I think I have better stuff to do than Twitter and Instagram."

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