Children are no strangers to computers, tablets, phones, televisions and other digital devices. In fact, almost 25% of children spend more than 3 hours a day using some kind of a screen device, in addition to the screen use during school hours. Most parents and teachers worry about the impact of screen use in children, and Computer Vision Syndrome or digital eye strain has been a topic of several debates in the fraternity.
What are the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome in children?
Children, like adults, are prone to symptoms like eye fatigue and eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, red and sore eyes, as well as neck and shoulder pain. These are due to staring at a screen for long hours without blinking, and due to spasm of muscles of the eye that help us in near vision.
Increased screen use and myopia: Myopia or nearsightedness is now being correlated with the growing exposure to and use of digital devices, particularly in children. The Effects of blue light: Blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light that is emitted from digital devices can affect sleep and concentration but there is also concern that it may cause long term retinal damage, particularly in children.
What are the causes of Computer Vision Syndrome in children?
Lack of discipline: In children, computer vision syndrome is a bigger problem than in adults since their visual system is still maturing, and they cannot discipline themselves about the hours spent in front of a television or play station.
Ergonomics of work stations: In addition, most computer workstations are arranged for adult use, and children working on those stations must look up further than an adult. This can lead to problems with binocular vision. Also, children may have problems placing their feet on the floor, causing arm, neck or back discomfort.
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Ambient lighting: For computers and tablets in the classroom, it must be remembered that the lighting level for the proper use of a computer is about half as bright as that normally found in a classroom. This can lead to excessive glare.
How can I protect my children from Computer Vision Syndrome?
All children must be taught about the harmful effects of excessive use of screen devices, and computer vision syndrome. The following tips may help to reduce digital eye strain:
Limit screen time: Whenever possible, limit the total screen time for the children, and make them take frequent breaks. Try and encourage them to play outside rather than on a screen device.
Optimize ergonomics of work station: Make sure that the computer is positioned properly, and that the ambient light is adequate and not causing glare. The monitor should be slightly below the child’s eye line and about 18 – 28 inches away. Also encourage proper posture during computer use.
Teach your children the the 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, they must close their eyes for 20 seconds, and then look at something at least 20 feet away.
Ensure regular eye checks: You must ensure that your child’s eyesight is checked regularly, and that the prescription for spectacles, if any, is up to date. This will minimize eye strain. In case of any persistent headaches, eye strain or pain, you must consult your eye doctor in order to rule out any other causes of the same.