HOUSTON - The University of Houston’s Dry Eye Center is seeing an increase in the number of children with symptoms.
Optometrists suspect too much time in front of digital devices.
“I probably spend three to four hours on my phone,” said 16 year-old Luke Farias. His mother says he stays on his phone a lot longer than that.
“Surfing the Internet, like Instagram or Vine or YouTube,” said Farias. “And Snapchat.”
He knows focusing on his phone, tablet, or computer screen affects his eyes.
“Because when you’re focused on something, you tend not to blink,” said Farias. Luke is a patient at the University of Houston’s Dry Eye Center, where optometrists have seen an increase in the number of cases in kids his age and younger.
“Typically, it’s seen as an older individual issue,” said director Amber Gaume Giannoni.
Gaume Giannoni suspects too much screen time and not enough blink time fails to sufficiently stimulate oil glands in your eyelids.
“We like to recommend the 20-20-20 rule,” said Gaume Giannoni. “Which is every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, look 20 feet away, rest those eyes.”
Over 20 million people in the U.S. are said to suffer from dry eye disease.
“It’s chronic and progressive and, in a lot of cases, has no cure,” said Gaume Giannoni.
Treating it early in adolescents like Luke could save them from issues in their adulthood.
“If it really starts to hurt, I start to just turn off whatever I have or look away and close my eyes for a little bit,” said Farias. “And that really does help.”
More info on the UH Dry Eye Center, click here.