The American Academy of Ophthalmology wants parents to know that too much screen time and virtual learning can be tough on their children’s eyes, causing muscle strain and tired, dry eyes, which can lead to headaches and blurry vision.
The academy shares a back-to-online checklist for protecting your child’s eyes, which includes things like setting a timer to take a 20-sec break from the screen every 20 mins, alternating an e-Book with a real book and encouraging children to look up and out the window every 2 chapters or simply shut their eyes for 20 secs.
Good ergonomics is as important as resting the eyes periodically. We tend to use digital devices at less than ideal distances and angles, which leads to eyestrain. To encourage good posture and better habits, set up a “home office” for your kids. Follow these tips to optimize their workspace:
- Make sure they view laptops at arm’s length, about 18 to 24 ins from where they are sitting. Ideally, they should have a monitor positioned at eye level, directly in front of the body. Tablets should also be held at arm’s length.
- To reduce glare, position the light source behind the back, not behind the computer screen.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast on the screen so that it feels comfortable for them.
- Don’t use a device outside or in brightly lit areas; the glare on the screen can cause eye strain.
- Avoid using a device in a dark room. As the pupil expands to accommodate the darkness, the brightness of the screen can aggravate after-images and cause discomfort.
- Put down the device 30 to 60 mins before bedtime. Blue light may disrupt sleep. For your procrastinating teens, switch to “night mode” or a similar mode to reduce blue light exposure.
Lastly, make sure they spend some time outdoors. Computer use and other near work activities may be driving a worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness in children, although this is not yet proven. However, several studies suggest that spending time outdoors, especially in early childhood, can slow the progression of nearsightedness.
For more information on eye health, visit www.eyesmart.org
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