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Computer Vision Syndrome

What Is the Long-Term Impact of Virtual Learning on Children’s Eyes?

Kids, like adults, are spending more time online. At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, many children attended school via Zoom and completed assignments online. The trend toward more screen time — whether playing games or being in touch with friends — is likely to continue even after everyone returns to the classroom.

We already know that prolonged screen time can cause digital eye strain as well as dry eye symptoms, among other problems in children and adults. There is some indication that extended exposure to blue light may impact the development of retinal cells. However, studies on actual subjects still need to be done to establish a clear connection.

Dry Eyes

Spending a long time in front of screens can impact how quickly our tears evaporate, because we blink around 66% less when using a computer compared to other daily activities. When tears evaporate too quickly and aren’t replenished with blinking our eyes start to feel dry and gritty. So remember to blink every few seconds to prevent your eyes from drying out!

Blue Light Exposure

Screens, such as those that appear on computers, phones and tablets emit blue light. Recent studies have shown that overexposure to blue light can damage the retinal cells at the back of your eyes. This may increase the risk of vision issues such as age-related macular degeneration which eventually leads to permanent loss of vision.

Excess blue light has also been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythms that regulate our sleep patterns, as it tricks your internal clock into thinking that it is the middle of the day. This may lead to difficulty in falling asleep, insomnia, and daytime fatigue.

Digital Eye Strain

Nearly 60% of people who routinely use computers or digital devices experience symptoms of digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Symptoms of eye strain include eye fatigue and discomfort, dry eye, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, eye twitching, and red eyes.

Taking frequent breaks from your screen can help reduce eye strain and neck, back and shoulder pain during your workday.

It is recommended to take at least one 10-minute break every hour. During these breaks, stand up, move about and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders to relieve tension and muscle aches.

Also, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This relaxes the focusing lens inside the eye to prevent fatigue.

How to Make Virtual Learning Safer For Your Child

The following tips can lessen the impact of screens on your child’s eyes:

  • Reduce overall screen time
  • Encourage frequent breaks
  • Use accessories that filter blue light (for example, blue light glasses)
  • Schedule regular eye exams

Make Sure Your Child Gets Routine Eye Exams

Children need comprehensive eye exams to assess the health of their eyes, correct their vision and spot potential problems which can affect learning and behavior.

To schedule a pediatric eye exam near you, call our optometrist in Wahpeton today!

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Q&A With Our Eye Doctor in Wahpeton, ND

What are blue light glasses?

Blue light glasses, also known as computer glasses, effectively block the transmission of blue light emitted from devices and computer screens. They often include a coating to reduce glare to further reduce eye strain. These glasses can be purchased with or without a prescription.

What’s the 20-20-20 rule?

If you find yourself gazing at screens all day, whether your computer, smartphone, iPad or television, you’re at risk of experiencing eye strain. So make sure you schedule frequent breaks from your screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And while you’re at it, use this time to get up, walk around, and stretch.

Tips to Relax Your Eyes

Do your eyes hurt after spending a significant amount of time reading, playing video games, driving, or staring at a screen? These visually intense activities can sometimes be hard on the eyes, causing uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and blurry vision. Other symptoms of eye strain can include light sensitivity, neck and shoulder pain, trouble concentrating, and burning or itchy eyes. 

Fortunately, preventing painful computer vision syndrome and eye fatigue symptoms can be as simple as trying a few of these eye exercises. To learn more about digital eye strain and discover the best relief options for you, call Prairie Vision Center at 701-642-4090 and schedule an eye exam with Dr. William Welder. 

Relax Your Eyes with These Supportive Techniques

Many of these exercises are designed for computer users. Eye strain resulting from long drives, reading, or other activities, can be alleviated by modifying some of these recommendations.

The Clock Exercise

The clock exercise relieves strain on overworked eye muscles and can help you avoid headaches and eye pain, among other symptoms. Begin the exercise by imagining a large analog clock a few feet in front of you. Keep your head still and move your eyes to the imaginary 9, then to the imaginary 3.  

Keep moving your eyes to the opposite pairs on the clock — 10/4, 11/5, 12/6, and so on. Hold your gaze for a second or two on each number before moving on to the next one. Continue doing this for 4-5 minutes. 

The 20-20-20 Rule

The 20-20-20 rule helps you avoid dry eyes and eye strain by giving your eyes frequent breaks. After about 20 minutes of screen time or doing close-up work, focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This gives the eyes a much needed rest and helps them relax. There are also free apps available that provide pop-up reminders that notify you when it’s time to shift your gaze.  

Screen Ergonomics

The American Optometric Association recommends placing computer monitors 20 to 28 inches, or 50-70 cm, away from your eyes and the top of the computer should be at eye level or right below for optimum eye comfort. Glare filters can reduce the amount of glare produced by digital devices and improve your viewing experience. 

Poor sitting posture can also contribute to eye strain. Your chair should be situated so that your feet are flat on the floor, or use an angled footrest for additional comfort.  

Optimize your Eyewear

Since regular prescription lenses or glasses may not adequately meet your visual needs for lengthy computer use, you may benefit from wearing computer glasses. These prescription glasses are customized to your needs and also reduce glare and block blue light. 

 

You don’t have to live with the discomforts of eye strain. If symptoms persist, it may be time to visit Prairie Vision Center and get the relief you seek. Call our office to schedule a convenient eye doctor’s appointment.