In today’s digital age, children across the globe are increasingly exposed to digital screens on smartphones, tablets, computers, and gaming consoles.
While these devices have transformed the education and entertainment scene, they also pose a potential risk to our children’s eyesight.
28% of parents reported their children spend 4 to 5 hours per day on a digital device. We’ll be discussing how excessive screen-time with no breaks can cause digital eye strain and how you can protect the eyesight of children in the digital age.
What is digital eye strain?
Digital Eye Strain (DES), also known as Computer Vision Syndrome, is a common condition that affects both adults and children who spend extended periods in front of screens.
Digital Eye Strain refers to a group of eye and vision-related problems caused by prolonged use of digital devices. The high-energy blue light emitted by these screens and the constant focus adjustment required can lead to various symptoms which we will go on to discuss.
What impact does blue light have on young eyes?
As young eyes are still developing, they are more susceptible to the potential harm caused by blue light exposure. Research shows blue light penetrates deep into the eyes and can lead to damage to the retina over time. It is crucial to take measures to protect children’s eyes from excessive blue light exposure.
What are the symptoms of digital eye strain?
As parents or carers, it is essential to recognise the signs of Digital Eye Strain in children. Some common symptoms include:
- Eye discomfort: Complaints of tired, itchy, or burning eyes.
- Squinting or blinking: Frequent squinting or blinking to refocus their vision.
- Headaches: Recurring headaches, especially after screen time.
- Dry eyes: Experiencing dryness or grittiness in the eyes.
- Double vision: Temporary vision issues like double vision or blurred vision.
How do you prevent digital eye strain?
It is crucial to implement preventive measures to safeguard children’s eyes from the effects of prolonged digital device usage. Here are some effective strategies:
1. Limit screen time
Set reasonable time limits on your child’s screen usage, both for academic and recreational purposes. Encourage breaks every 20-30 minutes to allow their eyes to rest and refocus on distant objects.
2. Optimal digital screen position
Ensure that the screen is at least an arm’s length away from your child’s eyes and slightly below their eye level. This positioning reduces strain on the eyes and neck.
3. Adjust display settings
Modify the brightness, contrast, and font size on digital devices to create a more comfortable viewing experience and reduce eye strain.
4. Blue light filters
Install blue light filters or use screen protectors with blue light-blocking technology to reduce the amount of harmful blue light reaching your child’s eyes.
5. Encourage outdoor activities
Promote outdoor activities to give your child’s eyes a break from screens and provide essential exposure to natural light.
Protecting children’s eyes in school
As digital devices become an integral part of education, it is vital for schools and teachers to prioritise eye health. Here are some steps schools can take:
Ergonomic classroom design
By considering elements such as screen positioning, lighting, and adjustable furniture, educators can create a conducive environment that promotes eye health.
Placing computer screens and interactive whiteboards at eye level allows students to maintain a comfortable posture, reducing strain on their eyes. Proper lighting, both natural and artificial, helps minimise glare and reflections on screens, preventing unnecessary eye strain.
Educate students on digital eye strain
Use interactive presentations and visual aids to illustrate the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures related to digital eye strain. Engage students in discussions about responsible screen usage and the importance of taking regular breaks.
Encourage students to take regular breaks from studying if they are using screens to prevent them from developing digital eye strain symptoms.
How can parents prevent children developing digital eye strain?
As a parent, you play a vital role in safeguarding your child’s eyesight. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Set screen time limits for children’s device usage.
- Encourage frequent breaks from screens.
- Ensure proper lighting in the room to reduce glare on screens.
- Maintain an appropriate distance between the screen and the child’s eyes.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast settings on devices to comfortable levels.
- Encourage outdoor activities to reduce prolonged screen exposure.
- Teach children to blink frequently to prevent dry eyes.
- Use devices with larger fonts to reduce the need for squinting.
- Limit device usage before bedtime to promote better sleep.
- Schedule regular eye check-ups for children to monitor eye health.
As parents and carers, it is our responsibility to take proactive measures to protect children’s eyes from the harmful effects of prolonged screen time.
Looking for an optician nearby? Book a children’s eye test at Gormley Opticians in Strabane or Ballybofey to experience unparalleled care and seek advice about digital eye strain and the impacts of screen time on children’s eyesight.