As many children across the United States are entering their second month of virtual learning, we need to consider how all of this extra screen time is affecting our children and their eyesight. Repeated use of electronic devices can cause eye strain in children and adults. You and your children can follow some simple steps to reduce eye strain.
To help avoid or relieve eye strain:
- Sit about 25 inches, or an arm’s length, from your computer screen.
- Position your computer screen so your eye gaze is slightly downward.
- If your device has a glass screen with considerable glare, consider using a matte screen filter to reduce glare.
- Take regular breaks using the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will allow your eyes a break from close-up focus.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
Some other things to be mindful of when logging extra screen time, whether through remote learning or as part of daily life (hello smartphones!) are:
- Take care to avoid glare as much as possible. Check that your computer or tablet is not positioned in a way that it reflects light from lights or windows back at you.
- Check that your screen brightness is set high enough that you do not find yourself squinting or getting closer to the screen to focus. When a screen is too dim, this can exacerbate eye strain.
- Take a visual break to blink. This helps your eyes stay moistened with natural tears and helps avoid dry and uncomfortable eyes. People tend to blink less when looking at a screen, so this tip is especially important during remote learning.
- Always stay up to date on regular eye exams. Undetected and untreated vision problems make screen time more difficult and can cause discomfort.
Be sure to check with your vision plan to confirm when you are eligible for your next vision exam. Also, remember that some medical plans cover vision exams for children under the age of 19. Check with your medical plan for details.