Millions of children use the computer every day, either at home or at school. Unfortunately, too much computer use at a young age could cause eye problems that may carry on into adulthood. With computers becoming a part of children’s everyday life, it’s worth considering what effects computer use might have on your children’s eyes and their vision.
Children may experience many of the same problems related to computer use as adults. Extensive computer viewing can cause dry eyes, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches. Prolonged computer use in children can also cause premature nearsightedness (myopia) and focusing (accommodative) problems that could affect the child’s eyes as an adult. Performing near-tasks for long periods of time can lead to progressive myopia, a condition in which the nearsightedness is progressing quicker than expected.
It is important to have your child’s eyes examined before starting computer use and then annually to monitor for any of these changes. Every child should see their eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam at the start of every school year to make sure their eyes are ready for computer use at school and at home.
Tell your eye doctor if your child has shown any signs of computer vision problems such as squinting, eye rubbing, red eyes, near complaints, and even avoidance of the computer altogether. A comprehensive eye exam will help your child feel comfortable on the computer and confident in his or her schoolwork
Here are some tips for setting up a child-friendly computer station:
- Use desk lights instead of ceiling lights to help prevent eyestrain
- Position the computer to eliminate glare and reflections on the computer screen
- Remind your child to blink frequently to keep the eye lubricated and prevent dry eye
- Teach children to take frequent “eye breaks.” Have them take 20 minutes off for every hour of computer use to look in the distance and give the eyes a break from near work
- During “eye breaks,” have the child stand and stretch out his or her body to relieve muscle strain