By Alena Walrath, PTA
As classes start back up again this fall, many schools have turned to technology to enable virtual learning. We are fortunate to live in a time where advances in technology have made this possible. One hurdle for most students with this new form of learning will be increased screen time. Even children with in-person classes may use screens more based on recreational choices after school involving technology such as video games, social media, and video chatting. As a result, it is important to watch out for vision problems and take steps to prevent eye strain.
It may be time to get your child’s vision checked if you notice your child squinting, rubbing his or her eyes, or getting frequent headaches. It is also helpful to watch how your child is using technology to determine if there is a problem with your child’s vision. Check to see how close your child is sitting to the computer monitor or if your child is holding a screen too close to his or her face.
Even children or adults with 20/20 vision, may experience eye strain with prolonged screen use. Symptoms of eye strain are similar to those of someone with vision problems, and may also include dryness, itching, or tiredness. The good news is that eye strain can be improved by practicing healthy screen habits. The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 10-minute screen break every hour. Children should also follow the 20/20/20 rule: “look away from the screen every 20 minutes, focus on an object at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.” Setting a timer can make this easier to remember.
Teaching children how to protect their vision is one way we can set them up for success this school year and for years to come.