Distance Learning has its pluses and minuses, but have you thought about how the increased time on digital devices affects your children’s eyes? Since your kids may already spend many hours playing video games, watching TV, or on their phone or tablet screens, what risk does even more screen times pose on their vision?

This year, many educational institutions are adopting e-learning to curb the ongoing global pandemic, but it poses many risks to your child’s eyes, social development, and learning experience.

Let’s discuss how online classes affect your children’s eyes.

Common Vision Problems Related to Screen Time

Myopia

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision problem in children. While it is partially caused by genetics, the manner in which your kids use their eyes can influence the amount and progression of their prescription.

Studies link increased screen time and up-close work, including reading books with myopia. It is important to know that reading on a digital device is harder on the eyes than reading from a printed book. This is because text on a digital screen is constantly flickering as pixels recharge the words and images electronically. On the other hand, printed books, or hard copy have stationary text with better contrast that is easier and less work on the eyes. Not to mention, there are far less distractions with printed textbooks than online since there is no YouTube or video games lurking in the background.

Dry and Tired Eyes

People, including children, often experience dry eyes after prolonged viewing at a computer screen. This occurs because the brain decreases blinking by approximately 80% to avoid competition with the flickering screen as well as to allow concentration. This is the basis for the saying, “You’ve been staring at the screen for too long,” because you actually do stare at a computer screen when working on it. The problem is that when you don’t blink enough, you aren’t spreading the oily layer of tears across your eyes to lubricate and moisturize your eyes. This results in dry eye symptoms such as:

  • Tired eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Scratchy eyes
  • General fatigue

Blue light

The blue light that comes from digital devices including computers, laptops, tablets and digital TVs tricks your brain into thinking that it is still daytime. When the brain doesn’t go into nighttime mode, it may not produce enough melatonin which affects your circadian rhythm or ability to sleep well.

Blue light can also harm the delicate tissues inside your eyes. The blue light wavelength is more energetic and can penetrate and cause more problems inside the eyes than ultraviolet light in sunlight. To be on the safe side, protect your children’s eyes with blue light blocking glasses or screen filters on digital devices. I like the products by Launch Protect because they are laboratory tested to actually filter out harmful blue light. We carry blue light glasses for children by Glam Baby Because not only do they have cute styles, but they have one of the best quality blue light filter lenses around. Some other products online are bogus and do not adequately protect your eyes. Use my code HollywoodEyes for a discount and free shipping.

How You Can Help Your Kids

Distance learning is a reality until we can get COVID-19 under control. So let’s work together to help your child with the associated problems that result because of so much screen time.

Teach Your Kids the 20-20-20 Rule

Every 20 minutes, tell your kids to take a 20-second rest and stare at an object that’s about 20 ft away. Remind them to blink their eyes frequently during this time to combat the “computer stare”.

Take breaks physical breaks off the computer

Set up their workspace to encourage physical activity breaks offline, instead of video game or watching videos online during breaks. Kids are no longer walking across campus, or playing at recess or during physical education, so they desperately need to get their bodies moving to pump oxygen and blood to their body and brains. This includes the eyes which need constant blood and oxygen circulation to stay healthy.

Here’s some ideas for quick breaks to get your mind, body and eyes moving!

  • Calisthenics such as jumping jacks, run in place, push ups, sit ups, squats
  • Jump rope
  • Chase the dog around the house
  • My favorite hack to get the kids off the computer is a punching bag to burn off nervous energy as well as vent frustration while learning at home. School is often challenging because you’re solving new problems, and what kid doesn’t like to hit things?!* A free-standing heavy bag does wonders to reduce stress while stimulating a child’s (and adults!) mind and body. I especially like the punching bags from Pro Boxing Supplies because of the quality and price. Tell them Dr. Brisco sent you!

Positioning

Make sure your child isn’t sitting too close to the computer or tablet screen. Also check the position of lighting in the room. The screen should be perpendicular to major light sources to prevent glare as well as backlighting into your child’s eyes. This means, their computer should not be facing a window, and there shouldn’t be a light source behind them, facing the screen which creates glare and washes out the screen.

Check Yearly, See Clearly

A comprehensive eye exam can help diagnose eye problems and provide an evaluation of overall wellness. Research has shown that even small uncorrected prescriptions can create eyestrain and interfere with focus and concentration. We have dedicated a large part of our practice to Children’s Vision since Dr. Brisco did a postdoctoral Fellowship in Developmental Vision, Strabismus and Amblyopia.

At her practice, the Hollywood Vision Center we offer specialized, and integrative eye treatments to anyone suffering from vision problems related to long hours on the computer. Contact us today to learn how we can help your child.