Whether they’re used at home or school, for educational purposes or just for fun, computers, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices play a big part in our children’s lives.
Most children get several hours of “screen time” each day, staring at the LED screen. All this screen time puts your child at a greater risk of developing what eye specialists refer to as Computer Vison Syndrome (CVS). At Berkeley Eye Center, we’ve had a lot of parents expressing concern about how spending all this time staring at an LED screen can affect their child’s vision.
How much screen time to American children get? Children under the age of 8 spend a little over 2 hours using digital devices each day. For 8 to 10 year olds, it’s about 6 hours a day. Children in middle and high school often spend more than 9 hours a day looking at digital screens.
What is Computer Vision Syndrome?
Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain, are terms used to describe a group of eye and vision-related problems that result due to extended computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Children often experience the same symptoms of CVS as adults do when they spend extended periods of time in front of a screen. These symptoms can include eye strain, dry eyes, red eyes, fluctuating vision, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision and double vision, as well as neck or back pain.
The level of eye discomfort and vision problems appears to increase in relation to the amount of digital screen use. Several factors can contribute to CVS in addition to spending hours looking at a screen, including poor lighting, screen glare, seating posture and pre-existing eye problems.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Children from CVS
There are many things you can do to reduce your child’s risk of developing CVS. These include:
- Teaching your child about the risks of spending too much time staring at a screen.
- Limiting screen time to one or two hours a day.
- Making your child’s work station more ergonomic — make sure the lighting is adequate (too much light can create glare); chairs should be positioned at a comfortable distance; and the screen should be in the correct position as well — slightly below your child’s eye line and about 18 to 28 inches away.
- Scheduling regular eye exams for your child.
- Getting your kids in the habit of following the 20-20-20 rule: Take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- Wearing computer glasses to help your child’s eyes more easily focus on the computer screen.
- Anti-glare screens or anti-glare coatings on eyeglasses can help reduce glare and eye strain.
- Watching your children for signs of CVS — red eyes, blurred vision, eye rubbing, or stiff neck. If these symptoms persist, take your child in for an eye exam.
Berkeley Eye Center Provides Eye Care for the Whole Family
Berkeley Eye Center has been protecting the vision of Houstonians for over 60 years, providing patients of all ages with the most advanced and comprehensive treatment options available. We have locations all over Houston and in surrounding communities. If your child has been exhibiting symptoms of CVS or other vision problems, we urge you to schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. The sooner a vision problem is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment will be.