Could Your Child Have Digital Eye Strain?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, March 16, 2021

Since 2010, there has been a 70% increase of smartphone usage and 40% increase in laptop usage worldwide. 

Eye doctors are reporting a major increase in the number of children being diagnosed with digital eye strain.

With smartphone usage and remote learning becoming more prevalent among children, it’s not surprising that children are experiencing digital eye strain.

While digital technology offers many benefits in the spheres of education, communication, and entertainment, overexposure and prolonged use of these devices can also have detrimental effects on your child’s eyes and vision.

Digital eye strain can cause many physical symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Burning or stinging in the eyes
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain

If your child suffers from any of the symptoms listed above they may have digital eye strain.

Protect your child from digital eye strain

There are many ways to protect your child from digital eye strain so that they can preserve their vision and eye health.

1. Teach the 20-20-20 rule

Digital eye strain can be caused by focusing fatigue, or staring at a digital device for too long.

While your child is watching TV or using a digital device, at least every 20 minutes remind them to look at something in the distance (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

This rule helps to relax the eye muscles and prevent eye strain. 

2. Blink frequently

Researchers have found that people blink less frequently when staring at a  screen. Reduced blink rate can lead to sore, dry eyes, as well as eye fatigue.

Remind your children to blink often while sitting in front of a screen, so they can keep their eyes healthy and moist.

If you suspect your child has eyestrain from their computer, contact an eye doctor near you, who can diagnose and treat the condition.

SEE RELATED: Near Point Visual Stress (NPVS)

Find a Vision Therapy Eye Doctor Near You

3. Keep a distance

Children tend to sit with their face up against a screen. This habit can not only cause digital eye strain, but is harmful for their eyes.

Teach your child the importance of keeping a distance from the device. Ideally the screen should be at least 18-24 inches away from their eyes. 

4. Upright posture

With online learning becoming more and more popular, children are being required to sit in front of a digital screen for many hours during the day.

Without proper posture, a day of remote learning can lead to shoulder, back and neck pain— common symptoms of digital eye strain.

To prevent this, your child’s desk and chair should be at a comfortable height so their feet can rest on the floor. If their feet don’t reach the floor, a stool under the desk is a perfect solution.

It is also important to ensure that their computer screen is positioned just below eye level so that they don’t strain their neck while staring at the screen.

Visit an eye doctor

If you find that your child is complaining of blurred vision, sore eyes, headaches, or any other symptoms following prolonged screen time, it is a good idea to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist experienced in children’s vision and vision therapy.

While digital eye strain is often a temporary condition that can be alleviated by making some lifestyle and behavioral changes, your eye doctor may discover that a functional vision problem is the underlying cause of your child’s symptoms.

The Find and Eye Doctor directory may provide a list of eye doctors near you that can diagnose a child with digital eye strain.

A customized program of vision therapy can help to improve their vision and enhance their screen time experience.

LEARN MORE:   Vision Therapy for Children

With technology and screens part of our daily lives, it is essential that we take the time to teach our children how to protect their eyes and vision from the effects of digital exposure.