We are fortunate to have resources like video chats to make socially distanced school a reality, but what is the impact of a full day of screen time on students’ eyes? As families let screen time limits go out the window during the pandemic, here’s how to protect your children’s eyes during remote learning.
- Keep a safe distance from devices: On average, we read at 16 inches from a book, but when it comes to screens, we’re reading at closer to 10 or 12 inches. This distance can put a real strain on our eyes and increase the risk for myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma. Moving devices further away from our eyes and keeping the device positioned lower than our heads so we’re looking down at it will help promote healthier eyes.
- Take regular breaks: Just like our muscles need stretching and walking breaks, our eyes need a break from straining to look at screens. For every 20 minutes you look at screens, focus on a point across the room for at least 20 seconds. Blue light glasses have been promoted to reduce damage from screen time, but there isn’t conclusive evidence on whether these work. Taking eye breaks is an easy way to make sure your eyes are getting rest throughout the day.
- Keep an eye out for signs of vision issues: Headaches, excessive blinking, eye rubbing, and a tired or cranky child can all be signs of vision troubles. Tricks, like turning down the brightness on devices, can help mitigate these issues, but if they persist, it may warrant a visit to the optometrist to troubleshoot the issue.
- Don’t skip vision screenings: Many doctors are warning of the risks of avoiding routine medical appointments during the pandemic, and your eyes are no exception. Keep up with regular check-ups for your child. For optometry, your child’s initial screening may even be able to take place online. Identifying eye problems early can make addressing them easier and help your child learn more effectively.
Screen time takes a real toll on our vision. A poll from the Pew Research Center found that 71 percent of parents with children under 12 are concerned about children spending too much time on screens. Use these tips to create a virtual school environment that promotes education and eye health.