The Screen and Kids' Vision: How to Keep Young Eyes Healthy (page 2)

The Screen and Kids

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Updated on Sep 23, 2010

Computer Glasses

If you or your child wears glasses regularly, the prescription in them is usually designed to help you see better at a distance. However, the presciption required for clear distance vision is probably different from that which makes your eyes most comfortable at 20-25 inches.

The first thing to do is to get annual eye exams. Be sure to tell the doctor that you or your child works on a computer and try to give them as much information about the situation as possible, i.e., working distance, lighting conditions, amount of time spent, symptoms experienced, etc. For children especially, sometimes glasses worn just for up close and computer work can help ease the strain from too many hours staring at the screen.

Taking Care of Your Eyes

There are many things your family can do on its own to reduce eyestrain for everyone while working at the computer, but most important to remember are the "3 Bs": Blink, Breathe and Break.

  • Blink. Blinking is an automatic function. We blink more often when we are excited or stimulated and less frequently during quiet, low energy activities, including reading, working at the computer, and concentrating. These kinds of activities have a tendency to lead to staring. Because it may be easy to slide into a lull of staring during these types of activities, it might take some concentration initially to keep up a normal blink rate while working at a computer or handling a smart phone. But blinking helps keep your eyes moisturized and focused, and is great way to give your stare (not to mention your eyes) a mini break every so often.
  • Breathe. Our breath is our life. When we encounter a stressful situation in most circumstances, we tend to hold our breath. Any child who's taken an exam or given an big presentation in front of the class, can probably tell you the same thing. In addition, sometimes when we are extremely relaxed or deep in thought or concentration, we tend to breathe less. It may seem obvious, but breathing helps keep us alert, focused and relaxed, and keeps oxygen flowing to all of the parts of our body. When working (or playing) in front of a screen, even and steady breathing can relax the eye muscles and help prevent your vision from blurring. Remind you kids when they're in front of a TV screen, a computer screen or any screen for that matter, to breathe! It may seem simple, but it can go a long way.
  • Breaks. With the amount of intense concentration we use doing computer work it's not surprising that we need more breaks. Our eyes were just not designed to be used at that close a distance for long periods of time. As a result, adult and kid eyes alike need all the help they can get. Remember the “20/20/20” rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds and look 20 feet away. Even if you can't remember the "20/20/20" rule, simply remembering to get up and stretch or look away for a moment to blink and breathe every so often, can work wonders for your eyes. Not to mention your productivity!

There is no one solution to all of the types of problems we encounter with computer and general screen use. Still, although screen time is on the rise, by encouraging healthy habits in kids, the next generation may well be on its way to better eye health. Start seeing your way to a brighter eye future!


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