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Number of teenagers requiring spectacles increases

Research by Scrivens has highlighted screen time as a possible cause of the increase

13 Aug 2019 by Andrew McClean

The proportion of 13 to 16 year olds requiring spectacles has almost doubled over the past seven years, according to research carried out by Scrivens Opticians and Hearing Care.

The independent highlighted in its Sound Insight Report 2019 that too much screen time could be to blame for the rise.

In 2012, 20% of people in their early teens required glasses, which has risen to 35% as of 2018 despite sight test numbers remaining the same. The report found that of those with a prescription, 66% were myopic.

Optometrist at Scrivens, Sheena Mangat, 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.”

As a result of the report, Scrivens is calling for more research into the possible impact of screen time on eye health.

The independent found that 13 to 16 year olds typically spend 26 hours a week looking at their mobiles and tablets, watching TV and playing video games.

“There is more research that needs to be done into why myopia, in particular, is presenting itself in children in such higher numbers, especially when it comes to determining if there is a link to screen time. Trying to encourage children away from their technology to playing outside is not only going to be good for their vision but their overall wellbeing too,” Ms Mangat added.

The report found that of the 678 parents who responded to the survey, 26% had never taken their children for a sight test. However, eight in 10 are aware that children qualify for a free sight test, with 78% aware that under 16s are entitled to prescription lenses for free on the NHS.

Scrivens surveyed 2000 adults in the UK via national survey agency OnePoll to find out more about children’s eye health nationally.

Speaking about the findings, Ms Mangat added: “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,” she shared.

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