Webisode addresses digital eyestrain

July 27, 2011

A new episode of VSP Vision Care?s EyeFiles Webisode series highlights ways to protect children from computer vision syndrome (CVS) and offers tips on how to combat digital eyestrain.

Rancho Cordova, CA-A new episode of VSP Vision Care’s EyeFiles Webisode series highlights ways to protect children from computer vision syndrome (CVS) and offers tips on how to combat digital eyestrain.

The new Webisode can be viewed on the EyeFiles tab on the VSP Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VSPVisionCare.

CVS, or digital eyestrain, can affect learning and work productivity. Growing evidence suggests that children are at increasing risk because of their use of personal computers, hand-held video games, smartphones, and e-readers.

“While digital eyestrain is commonly regarded as an adult condition, tech-savvy children are growing up with access to a variety of digital devices and are suffering from the side effects of overuse,” said Leanne Liddicoat, OD, a VSP optometrist featured in the EyeFiles Web series.

Dr. Liddicoat offered the following tips that you can communicate to patients who are parents to protect their children’s eyes against overuse of digital devices:

• Get eye exams. Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, then at 3 years of age, before starting kindergarten, and every year after that.

• Apply the 20/20/20 rule. Advise children that every 20 minutes, they should stop using their digital devices and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

• Ensure proper lighting. Ease eyestrain by keeping bright lights overhead to a minimum and positioning computer screens in a way that reduces reflections and glare from windows or overhead lights.

• Limit device use. Set time limits on the amount of screen time. It's recommended that children aged fewer than 2 years have no screen time and that older children have less than 2 hours per day. Parents should watch for digital eyestrain symptoms such as squinting, eye-rubbing, and complaints of back, neck, or head pain.

• Check working distance. The closer the eyes are to the object they're looking at, the harder the eyes have to work. A good rule is to apply the Harmon Distance (the distance between the elbow and first knuckle) as a guide. If a child is holding digital devices closer than that, inform his or her eye doctor so the child can be evaluated for vision problems.

• Send the kids outside. A few hours of outdoor play per day actually may help children’s vision and prevent the development of myopia.