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Kashmiri parents face new worry: Is too much screen time ruining kids’ eyesight?

SRINAGAR, MAR 03: Like most kids, 7-year-old Ahmed loves watching cartoons on his mother’s phone. But his parents Shabnum and Manzoor were shocked when a recent eye check-up revealed that years of excessive screen time has weakened their son’s vision significantly.

“The doctor said Ahmed has developed myopia and needs glasses now. We never thought staring at screens for hours could affect his eyesight so early,” shares a worried Shabnum,

The Bemina couple represents scores of Kashmiri parents suddenly confronting a new crisis – the impact of unchecked technology use on children’s eye health. Top ophthalmologists confirm that eye disorders in kids as young as 1-2 years are surging in the Valley.

“With excessive gadget use, we estimate 50% of the child population could develop vision issues in the next 10 years. Cases of myopia will rise dramatically,” experts told Morning Kashmir

Official data reveals over 5 children are diagnosed with myopia daily in private clinics across Kashmir. At JVC Hospital Bemina, hundreds line up with eye problems every month. “We’re seeing an unprecedented increase in paediatric vision disorders due to too much screen time now,” notes an Ophthalmologist at GMC Srinagar.

For parents like Shabnum and Manzoor, their son’s predicament has been a rude awakening. “We had no idea allowing Ahmed to play games and watch videos endlessly could permanently damage his vision,” regrets Manzoor. The couple has now put limits on Ahmed’s screen access.

Like them, Majid and Sara Mattoo were shocked when their 4-year-old Fatima was diagnosed with digital eye strain. “The doctor said it’s due to spending over 5 hours daily on the tab. Our girl now has to wear spectacles,” rues Sara. The Mattoos immediately minimised Fatima’s screen time to an hour. 

Ophthalmologists strongly advise parents to make kids spend time outdoors and restrict device use. “It is very important children remain in the sunlight daily and balance real play with virtual entertainment. Parents must recognise the severe impact of uncontrolled gadget use on kids’ vision and take corrective steps,” doctors caution. For Kashmiri families, safeguarding their children’s eyesight in the digital age has emerged as a new challenge. Many are calling for awareness drives on eye care for tech-savvy kids and urging schools to incorporate sight-saving guidelines. As paediatrics too highlights the urgent need to balance tech habits with holistic development, parents find themselves at the frontlines of a new public health battle.

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