As a parent, you’re already aware that your child’s remote learning programs come with advantages and disadvantages, but there’s one disadvantage you may not have considered before now.
Visual discomfort, blurry vision and irritated eyes are on the increase across all age sectors, but one group is most notable: school-aged children in online education programs.
In addition to educational uses, children are turning to virtual activities for social interaction with friends – from virtual face to face play time to online games – children are spending increased time online. Some experts estimate an average of 7 hours per day is spent on digital devices by school-age children.
Increased screen time puts children at risk for:
- Dry eyes
- Binocular vision dysfunction
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
Vision, Learning, and Computer Vision Syndrome
Vision and learning are closely related, especially for children. And, in an online learning environment, vision can be even more crucial to your child’s education. 80% of what a child learns in a traditional classroom setting is presented visually, and online learning even further increases the visual workload.
For some parents and educators it is possible to easily observe symptoms of a vision problem, including computer vision syndrome:
- Holding reading material close to the face
- Covering one eye while reading
- Turning the head to the side when reading
- Using fingers as a reading guide
From a study published in the Hippokratia medical journal:
“Children can experience many of the same symptoms related to computer use as by adults. Extensive viewing of the computer screen can lead to eye discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches, dry eyes and other symptoms of eyestrain. These symptoms may be caused by poor lighting, glare, an improper work station set-up, vision problems of which the person was not previously aware, or a combination of these factors. In most cases, symptoms occur because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform the task. However, some unique aspects of how children use computers may make them more susceptible than adults to the development of these problems.”
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of Computer Vision Symptoms, you can help them recover and form healthier screen use practices.
Solutions for Parents
- Implement the 20-20-20 rule. After using a digital device (computer, tablet, smartphone) for 20 minutes, look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Use a large enough screen to encourage good posture.
- Have a comprehensive eye exam each year with a residency-trained pediatric optometrist, who is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric vision conditions, binocular vision problems and offers myopia management.
- If glasses are recommended, it is important to help your child understand the importance of wearing them. Even a slight prescription left uncorrected can have a tremendous effects when using digital devices.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding exposure to screens for at least one hour before going to bed.
For more information on how screens can affect children, please visit our Blue Light, Digital Eye Strain, and Screen Time pages.
Children grow and change from year to year, and so do their eyes and vision. That's why it is so important to have yearly eye health exams, especially if your child is, or has been, enrolled in an online learning program..
If your child is exhibiting any symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, we invite you to give us a call at (208) 900-3336 and schedule appointments for your children.