How to prevent digital eye strain
New technology is fantastic for learning and keeping entertained but too much is not good for our eyesight.
We live in an electronic age and are children are spending more time on screen than with books. Research shows that kids are picking up screens as early as six months and by the time their teens they spend up to seven hours a day in front of screen. Eye doctors are warning this is too long in front of a screen and can cause digital eye strain in our kids.
Symptoms of digital eye strain also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) include:
- blurred vision
- dry eyes
- neck and shoulder pain
Our eyes are designed to look straight ahead and down slightly. A computer monitor too high or a projector screen off to the side makes your eyes work in an unnatural position, also causing strain. Eye muscles work harder which causes them to get strained. Children have a tendency to also sit too close to their cell phone, tablet or monitor, which also contributes to weaker eyesight.
When staring at a computer screen, tablet or cell phone, we tend to blink less. Since our eyes work harder to see thing closer than in the distance, sitting too close to the small screens can lead to muscle fatigue. Over time the eyes get weaker, more easily tired and strained
Today’s smartphones, tablets, flat screen TVs and LED monitors and projectors emit cool blue light that also contributes to eye strain and discomfort. There are also growing concerns that these blue light can cause retina damage since it stimulate the retina’s blue cells as it passes through the cornea leading to serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The American Optometric Association has put out guidelines for both the classroom and at home to help prevent or reduce digital eyestrain:
- Take a break. Follow the 10-10-10 rule which means which means every 10 minutes take a 10 second break and look at something 10 feet away. This reduces eyestrain and helps the eyes to relax.
- Keep blinking to keep the eyes moist.
- Computer screens should be only four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes.
- Handheld devices should be held away at a safe distance.
- Check for glare on the screen so that no light sources are directly visibly on the computer monitor.
- Adjust the brightness of the screen and change the background color.
- Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. Bright overhead light should be on a dimmer switch.
- Increase the font size on the computer to reduce eyestrain.
- Teach students never to stare directly into the projector beam and always step outside the beam when approaching the projector at school or at home.