A new school year is quickly approaching which could mean increased time in front of computers for children. According to an article that appeared on AllAboutVision.com, 94 percent of American families with the kids have a computer in their home and 26 percent of children ages 8 to 18 have a personal laptop.
Children who spend hours looking at computer screens are at risk of developing computer vision syndrome or other symptoms of digital eye strain. Symptoms of computer vision syndrome range from dry eyes, sensitivity to light, neck and back pain and blurred vision. The study also showed that the effects of spending hours looking at screens is damaging, and causes the prevalence of nearsightedness to rise amongst kids and teens.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) has four tips that will help keep developing eyes from long-term damage:
Have your child’s vision checked. Before starting school, every child should have a comprehensive eye exam, including near-point (computer and reading) and distance testing.
Limit the amount of time your child spends at the computer without a break. Encourage kids to take 20-second breaks from the computer every 20 minutes to minimize the development of eye focusing problems and eye irritation. (Some eye doctors call this the “20-20 rule.”)
Check the ergonomics of the workstation. For young and small children, make sure the computer workstation is adjusted to their body size. The recommended distance between the monitor and the eye for children is 18 to 28 inches. Viewing the computer screen closer than 18 inches can strain the eyes.
Check the lighting. To reduce glare, windows, and other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of the monitor. Minimize the amount of light in the room to match the computer screen.
For more information on computer vision syndrome and how to prevent it, visit the American Optometric Association’s website.