Digital technology has provided us with valuable educational innovations, but it has also increased the amount of time that we spend looking at screens. With many schools setting up virtual classrooms and relying on remote learning, children of all ages are experiencing more screen time than ever. We know that increased screen time can cause eye strain, fatigue, and headaches, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to protect your children’s eyes.1 The eye doctors at Virginia Eye Consultants are dedicated to preserving the eye health and vision of families in our community, and we believe that incorporating these simple tips into your remote learning plan will help keep you and your child’s eyes healthy.
How to Protect Eye Health During Remote Learning
1. Set Devices Up Properly
Adults working from home have had to devise more ergonomic setups to mimic the comfortable environment of an office and kids learning at home need a good setup too. When it comes to eye health, it is important to have screens set up 20 to 24 inches away from the face. When a screen is closer than that, this may cause eye strain and muscle fatigue that may lead to larger eye problems.
2. Schedule Frequent Breaks
Many eye problems associated with screen time result from the fact that we blink less often when looking at screens. An easy way to address this is to follow the 20-20-20 rule: Set a timer for every 20 minutes, and have your child look at least 20 feet away from their screen for 20 seconds (20-20-20 rule is recommended for adults working on screens as well!) For longer breaks, make an effort to get outside when possible since studies show that adequate outdoor time can also have an impact on children’s eye health.2
3. Pay Attention to Potential Vision Issues
Depending on their age, children may not realize changes in their own vision or they may not have the language to describe vision changes. Keep watch and schedule a comprehensive eye examination if you notice any of the following:
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Moving objects closer to see them
- Favoring one eye over the other
- Difficulty with tasks that used to be easy or enjoyable, such as reading<
4. Get Regular Eye Care
Many school aged children have an annual vision screening at school. A basic vision screening can also be performed by your pediatrician or family doctor which only tests for vision changes and eye misalignment. If you have noticed any particular eye symptoms, your child has complained about vision issues, or if there is a family history of eye problems, you may consult an optometrist or pediatric ophthalmologist who specializes in children’s vision and eye health.3 Regular visits with a pediatric eye doctor can be an important part of preventative care.
Contact Virginia Eye Consultants
The vision experts at Virginia Eye Consultants are here to answer any questions about eye care. Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation with us or an optometrist in our affiliated network.
1 Greenway KH. How to Protect Children’s Eyes During Remote Learning. New York Times. August 17th, 2020. Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/parenting/kids-eyesight-distance-learning-coronavirus.html
2 Ku PW, Steptoe A, Lai YJ, Hu HY, Chu D, Yen YF, Liao Y, Chen LJ. The Associations between Near Visual Activity and Incident Myopia in Children: A Nationwide 4-Year Follow-up Study. Ophthalmology. 2019 Feb;126(2):214-220. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2018.05.010. Epub 2018 Jun 20. PMID: 29934268.
3 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eye Screening for Children. Available: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/children-eye-screening Accessed September 21, 2020.