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Eye strain in children and online classes


Date : 19-Aug-2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and the related quarantines/ lockdowns has made us more reliant on all kinds of electronic devices to do our work or studies. Almost all of them have screens to stare at, and extensive use of such devices can cause dry eyes, headaches, blurry vision, tiredness and irritation of the eyes. Children or adults, all suffer from the same issue. However, the way children use these devices have some aspects that makes them more vulnerable than adults. With classes for children or all ages going entirely online, the issue is only going to get worse.

A few aspects to take into consideration are:

ALL CLASSES should be done on a desktop computer, a laptop or a tablet and NEVER on a phone.

Children’s adaptability - while adaptability has many positive aspects, children have a tendency to ignore problems and not inform their parents. A child may not consider changing the brightness/contrast of a screen to a more comfortable level, causing excessive eye strain. They may accept blurred vision of an uncorrected vision problem, thinking everyone sees the way they do.

Limited self awareness - when engaged in enjoyable tasks, like playing video games or watching movies/TV shows, they often do so without taking any breaks, all of which can cause eye strain.

Some digital eye safety rules:
  • Make the study schedule eye friendly with breaks for simple exercise, food etc.
  • Limit recreational usage of digital devices.
  • Rigorously follow the 20-20-20 rule, where every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds look away at an object about 20 feet away. There are apps for this these days.
  • Keep the screens of the devices clean. Clean them at least once a week.
  • When reading, if the text seems small, use the zoom option.
  • The child’s position at the computer should be ergonomic. Most computers are set up for adults and are not suitable for children. Ergonomic means the feet should be flat on the floor or if necessary on a foot stool; back should be straight and supported at the lower back; shoulders relaxed with arms straight and level. The top of the screen should be at the level of the child’s eye.
  • If necessary, take breaks over and above the schedule, whenever the child complains of or you sense the strain on the child.
  • Stop using digital devices two-three hours before going to sleep.
  • If the child complains of regular/continuous discomfort, consult a doctor without delay.

Blog reviewed by: Dr. Lalit Kumar

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