(Family Features)–Whether it’s a tablet with an educational purpose or a big screen displaying the latest video game, the use of electronic technology is skyrocketing among kids. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages eight to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours with electronics every day.
Unfortunately, all of that screen time can cause eye fatigue, and ultimately have an impact on your child’s overall vision and eye health.
To view things closer, our eyes automatically adjust by drawing inward; our pupils get smaller to focus, and our eye muscles adjust so we can see a clear image. As a result, extended use of electronic screens can cause tired, blurry or irritated eyes.
Intense focus on a video screen also leads to a diminished blink rate, which can result in eye injuries.
Although there is no scientific evidence that computers and handheld electronic devices directly cause vision problems, using these devices wisely can help prevent eye fatigue and strain, as well as associated headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
To help protect your child’s vision, consider these tips from Ameritas, a leading provider of dental, vision and hearing care plans:
• Know that prolonged use of electronic devices can exacerbate underlying eye conditions, so electronics should be used in moderation. Limit screen time to two hours or less a day (including watching TV, playing video games and using mobile phones).
• Encourage intentional blinking while electronic devices are in use to help refresh eyes with natural moisture that helps prevent bacterial infections, dry spots and corneal breakdown.
• Reduce additional eye strain by managing glare from windows and using low-watt bulbs in light fixtures.
• Keep computer screens 20 to 28 inches away from the face.
• Practice a rule of 20s to give eyes a rest. Every 20 minutes, ask your child to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds before refocusing attention up close again.
• Move around and change positions periodically while using a device.
• Watch for signs of eyestrain while electronic devices are in use, such as squinting, frowning at the screen or rubbing eyes.
If vision problems or discomfort arise, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a professional evaluation.
When taking into account time at the office in front of a computer screen, many adults regularly use electronic devices for as long as, or even longer than, their children. Following the same advice not only sets a good example, but it can help protect your own eye health.