Happy Monday, y’all!
Ready or not, a new school year is upon us. However, for many, it looks very different than years in the past, as virtual schooling has become a reality for children of all ages across the country. Children from Kindergarten through high school (and even through college) are now needing to sit still at home in front of computer screens for hours at a time, completing virtual instruction.
Unfortunately, this mode of education poses significant problems for the visual system.
In a previous series, I discussed Computer Vision Syndrome in adults. However, this condition is not limited by age. Rather, as screen time increases, children are reporting increasing symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome as well.
As a review from before, some common symptoms of computer vision syndrome are:
- Headaches (especially around the eyes)
- Eye strain
- Eye fatigue
- Double vision
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
But in an environment where virtual learning at times seems to be the only viable option, what can be done to prevent these symptoms in children?
A Facebook group that I am a part of (VTODs on Facebook) has compiled some tips and tricks for optimal ocular health in this new situation, and so, for today, I’d like to share some of them with you!
- Blue light filters: Blue light filters block blue light (which is emitted from screens), which has been shown to have effects on circadian rhythms and potentially cause ocular fatigue secondary to the screen flicker rates. If you’re ordering new specs for your child, consider adding a blue blocking filter. If your child doesn’t wear glasses, blue light filters are sold as prescription-less glasses, as well as filters that can be put on screens!
- Reading glasses: When using screens for long periods of time, it may be beneficial for your child to use low powered reading glasses to relax how hard they have to focus their eyes to clearly view the screen. Low plus (+1.25-+1.50) lenses can be bought over the counter at most stores.
- 20/20/20 Rule: As with adult Computer Vision Syndrome, encourage your child to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to give their eyes a break!
- Distance: Make sure all screens are at least an arms length away from your child!
- TV: Consider casting your child’s virtual class to a TV screen for easier viewing.
- Activities: Try to have your child do some form of physical activity (jumping jacks, jump rope, running, etc) for at least 5 minutes to use some energy before having to sit still
- Windows: If possible, have your child’s school set up be next to a window so that they can easily look far away.
- Go outside: During any breaks, go outside! This helps relax eyes, and is good for overall health!