Children and digital eye strain

Child studying at desk

For a majority of parents, the 2020-2021 school year will begin virtually. According to Education Week, 39 of the 50 largest school districts are choosing remote learning as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting over 6.1 million students in the United States.

The transition to virtual instruction means that children will be heavily reliant on digital devices for learning. Although electronic devices are great and necessary tools for education, a full 8-hour school day looking at a computer screen or tablet could result in digital eye strain.

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome, refers to eye discomfort and vision problems associated with viewing digital screens for extended periods of time. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.

It’s reported that children experience the following symptoms after being exposed to two or more hours of digital screen time:

  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain
  • Dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

How to protect your children’s eyes from digital eye strain

Parents should keep these five tips in mind to prevent digital eye strain:

  1. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, make sure your child takes a 20-second break and looks at an object at least 20 feet away.
  2. Remind your kids to blink! Staring at digital devices decreases our blink rate. Blinking will prevent dry eyes by keeping their eyes moist.
  3. Position the computer screen so that it is between 16 to 30 inches from your child’s eyes and the top is level with, or slightly below, their eyes.
  4. Adjust the brightness of screens and increase text size.
  5. If your child wears glasses, consider purchasing eyewear with blue light filtering capabilities.

Schedule a routine eye exam

Regular eye exams are vital to your child’s health and success. Early detection and treatment provide the best chance to correct vision problems before they interfere with or cause difficulties with learning. Speak with your eye care professional about your child’s vision and schedule a routine eye exam today!


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