PUTRAJAYA, Oct 10 — An increase in eye problems among children could be related to prolonged exposure to smart devices, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She said parents should restrict their children’s use of these devices to no more than two hours a day to minimise the risk of eye strain and sleep disruptions.

“One of the things we want is for parents to be aware of the amount of time their kids are spending on their electronic gadgets.

“I don’t have the exact figures but from what we’ve noticed and realised is that playing with gadgets before sleep causes the brainwaves to alter.

“Prolonged use causes dry eyes, blurriness and eventually causes myopia,” Dr Wan Azizah said after launching the World Sight Day event at Putrajaya.

Myopia is the medical term for short sightedness.

Some studies suggest that eye strain from prolonged near focus as well as exposure to blue light from smart devices could increase the risk of developing myopia.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the women, family, and community development minister, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the Ministry of Health will conduct research on increased myopia among Malaysian children next year.

World Sight Day is observed annually on the second Thursday of October and is a global event meant to draw attention to blindness and vision impairment.