Millions of schoolchildren are doing most of their learning at home during this COVID pandemic. Remote learning presents students with vision challenges. The most common problem is digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Spending many hours indoors and on computer has also been linked to a child becoming more and more nearsighted. That is called progressive myopia. These problems are of particular concern now, because children are now spending much more time on-line as compared to the days before the COVID epidemic.
Using digital screens for long periods causes digital eye strain. That eye strain then causes headaches, blurriness, dry eyes, difficulties with concentration, and neck and shoulder pain. The effects of digital eye strain are made even worse when a child has an already existing eye condition, for example, it they have a problem with eye movements.
A child is not able to tell you that they have these problems because they have always seen this way and they way they think everyone sees. That is why it is so important that your children undergo a thorough eye exam, and to correct or treat eye conditions that can interfere with their learning, both in the classroom and online.
How Parents Can Help
Conditions that contribute to a child having digital eye strain also include insufficient contrast between characters appearing on the screen and the screen’s background, the amount of glare emitted by the computer or tablet screen, being too close to or too far from the screen, and poor posture.
By monitoring your children’s learning environment and recognizing the signs of digital eye strain, you can prevent or at least minimize the effects of eye strain on your child. The American Optometric Association recommends that you:
- Adjust the center of the screen so that it is approximately 5 inches below your eyes and 20–28 inches away
- Tilt the screen to eliminate glare
- Use proper posture, with feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight, and wrists off the keyboard
- Blink frequently to keep the eyes moist
- Take frequent breaks away from the device (at least every 20 minutes)
- Shut devices at least one hour before going to sleep
Research has shown that children who spend significant time playing in the sunshine experience slower myopia progression than children who stay indoors, so it is a good idea to have your children get plenty of sunshine.
If your children haven’t yet undergone their annual comprehensive start-of-school eye exam, schedule an appointment with us. We’ll advise you and your children on how to keep their vision clear and comfortable and their eyes healthy during this extended period of at-home learning.
We, at Family Eye Care of Old Bridge, help parents and children from Old Bridge and the surrounding towns of Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, Cliffwood Beach, and throughout New Jersey.