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Extended screen time perils: UniNews


This article first appeared in UniNews, Auckland University, by Denise Montgomery.


Research by Dr Alex Müntz and colleagues from the School of Ophthalmology, Auckland University, has captured attention. Dr Müntz discusses his research findings as well as strategies to reduce the risk of developing dry eye disease due to extended screen use, in a recent article by UniNews.


“Ophthalmology researcher Dr Alex Müntz says guidelines are vital for safe screen use, especially in education.”


“When research published by Dr Alex Müntz at the School of Ophthalmology revealed that young people using screens for long hours were showing signs of an eye condition usually seen in the elderly, alarm bells rang…”


“Research has consistently shown that extended screen use is linked to dry eye disease in adults, but it’s also becoming common in younger people.” “Some of our older patients have such bad dry eye they can’t open their eyes for several hours or leave the house, which can lead to depression,” says Alex. “It’s an invisible condition that’s like sandpaper on your eyes and can also affect vision. We don’t want children going down that path.”


“Alex says voices in neonatal care have singled out screen time from an early age as the biggest threat to neonatal development in New Zealand.” “We have among the highest digital screen use in education in the world. Yet we have a limited understanding of the risks involved with high screen use in children and how it affects many areas of health, not just eyes. Research is now emerging, so we need to develop and implement guidelines for safe screen use in a child’s early years.”


Internationally, guidelines for the safe use of digital technologies in schools do exist, and can include time limits to reduce risks to children’s vision. Sensible Screen Use advocates for such guidelines to be developed specifically for young people in Aotearoa, to allow students to gain the best that devices offer to learning, with less risks than they may currently face.


For more information on strategies to limit dry eye disease see: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/news/2022/03/01






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