SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- When COVID-19 first shut classrooms in the spring, we got a glimpse into the digital challenges of distance learning. Among them, kids aren't immune to developing tired, dry eyes from concentrating on laptops and tablets for extended periods of time. The discomfort drove some of them to their ophthalmologist, looking for relief. To prepare students and their families for the new school year, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is sharing a back-to-online school checklist to help prevent digital eye strain.
"I was a digital eye strain naysayer prior to recent events," said Stephen Lipsky, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "But in my practice, I really have seen a marked increase in kids suffering from eye strain because of increased screen time. Good news is most symptoms can be avoided by taking a few simple steps."
The simple fact behind the headaches, blurry vision, and tired, dry eyes is that we don't blink as often while using computers and other digital devices, leaving eyes dry and irritated. And when we focus at the same distance for a long time, it can cause our vision to blur temporarily, and the muscles around the eye to tire, which can cause headaches. Extended reading, writing or other intensive near work can also cause eye strain.
To fix this problem, ophthalmologists — physicians specializing in medical and surgical eye care — recommend taking a 20 second break from near work every 20 minutes. Here are some tips to help parents remind kids to follow this vital rule:
Good ergonomics is as important as resting the eyes periodically. We tend to use digital devices at less than ideal distances and angles, which leads to eyestrain. To encourage good posture and better habits, set up a "home office" for your kids. Follow these tips to optimize their workspace:
Lastly, make sure they spend some time outdoors. Computer use and other near work activities may be driving a worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness in children, although this is not yet proven. However, several studies suggest that spending time outdoors, especially in early childhood, can slow the progression of nearsightedness.
For more information on eye health, visit www.eyesmart.org
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.
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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology