In an age of ever growing use of technology by children, specifically LCD flat screens, children are at risk for some of the same sight issues as adults, as well as some unique to children. Today, kids are spending countless hours on social media sites like Facebook and texting, and, of course, gaming. With all this screen face time comes an ever-increasing chance of eyestrain and fatigue. Kids, unlike adults, have a different perspective about using technology and can sit staring at screens big and small for hours, ignoring the signs of eye fatigue and strain in order to continue participating in an activity, which they find entertaining.
The problem with continuous game play is that it can cause eye-focusing problems, which involves the eyes focusing and re-focusing. More specifically, being able to smoothly re-focus from one object to another even after a child has stopped playing for some time. Other eye situations kids are more likely to tolerate are dry eyes from infrequent blinking, screen glare, and near and far sightedness.
Another consideration is a child's viewing angle, for an adult a comfortable screen-viewing angle is about 15 degrees. However, for a child sitting in adult chairs, the angle is much greater, which can make viewing the screen more difficult for a child.
To help your child safeguard their sight and have a more pleasurable time while using the family computer, the American Optometric Association
offers some simple common sense steps you can take.
The AOA suggests an eye exam as a good first step in determining if there are any underlying eye conditions, which may be contributing to eyestrain, such as the need for glasses. Also, building in break times, as mentioned kids will continue to do what they are doing if it is entertaining, and forget to give their eyes a much needed rest. Getting them away from the screen every hour is a good rule in helping to reduce eye-refocusing problems. To reiterate, adjustment to the sitting position and angle of the viewing screen can reduce eyestrain. In addition, removing sources of screen glare such as lamps placed behind the screen also help. Moreover, moving the screen away from bright windows and reducing light levels in the room. Another point to remember is today kids are using screens more at school and passing these helpful ideas on to your kid's teacher may earn you a gold star!