I’ve covered this Computer vision syndrome in kids in recent media interviews with Bernama and Minnal.fm in Tamil as well as in a webinar in English not long ago. As promised here’s an article for you in English. In this article, we will briefly uncover the basic concepts of computer visions syndrome in kids, as well as some tips to prevent this condition.
Computer vision syndrome in kids is highly prevalent in this day and age because of the transition from physical classrooms to online lessons. This condition which were common amongst the office workers and college students are now more rampant among children due to their virtual learning platforms and the amount of time spent on digital devices.
As the name implies, computer vision syndrome results from looking at the computer for too long. However, other digital devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and e-readers can also trigger this condition.
The signs and symptoms of computer vision syndrome
The symptoms of computer vision syndrome are diverse and may include:
o Eye strain
o Eye fatigue
o Blurry vision
o Double vision
o Dry eyes
o Itchy, tearing eyes
o Shoulder pain
Common factors that increase the risk of your kid include:
o Staring at a digital screen on a daily basis
o Poor lighting in the room
o Uncorrected vision problems (e.g., astigmatism, myopia or hyperopia)
o Incorrect prescription eyeglasses
o Poor posture while sitting
How to prevent computer vision syndrome in kids
As much as limiting the screen time seems appealing, that might not be an option given the current pandemic situation. Learning from home not only ensures continuity in learning but also the safer option for kids to continue their education while embracing information and digital technology. Hence, here are some tips to prevent computer vision syndrome in kids:
1. Adjust your kid’s computer (screen position)
By placing your kid’s computer screen 20 to 28 inches away from their eyes, you will dramatically lower their risk of eye strain. Make sure your child’s head is in a naturally comfortable position. You can also adjust the size of text and images to make them more visible and easier to read. Adjusting the lighting may also help
2. Teach them to blink frequently
Blinking prevents ocular dehydration, which is a key driver of eye strain in computer vision syndrome. Unfortunately, using digital devices reduces the rate of blinking dramatically. In one study, researchers found that people who use a computer blink 66% less than those who don’t.
To avoid this issue, ask them to look away from screen regularly and blink more often. A great way to restore the eyes’ hydration is by taking frequent pauses from using digital devices. This will allow the blinking reflex to kick again.
3. Use the right eyeglasses
As we mentioned above, uncorrected vision problems can accelerate the occurrence of computer vision syndrome. Therefore, you should make sure that your kid’s vision issues are corrected using appropriate eyeglasses. After all, wearing the wrong prescription glasses can worsen your kid’s vision, causing eye strain and headaches.
4. Adjust your kid’s posture
When you notice that your kid is using a digital device, don’t forget to pay attention to their posture. Ask them to keep their back straight and avoid curving their neck too sharply. A comfortable chair will support your back and neck, preventing the usual neck and shoulder strain associated with Computer Vision Syndrome in kids.
5. Exercise your eyes with 20-20-20 Rule
If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, try looking away from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object that is 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. It’s like gym for your eyes!
• How can you tell if something is 20 feet away? You might not be able to tell exactly without a measuring tape or device. However, what's more important is that you should just try to focus on something far away from you. Consider looking out of the window focusing on an object that seems far away, like a tree or a building across the street.
• Why 20 seconds? It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax.
• What about reminding yourself to do this every 20 minutes? Setting a timed reminder can help you take a break every 20 minutes. There are also free apps like Eye Care 20 20 20 or Donald Korb Blink Training that can help.
Computer vision syndrome is a common condition that affects people from all age groups. However, the rise of digital device usage among kids made this age group very susceptible.
I hope that this article managed to highlight the signs and symptoms of computer vision syndrome in kids, as well as the role of preventive measures in lowering the incidence of this condition.