Summer has come to an end, which means students will spend most of their day in classrooms and at home learning and studying on laptops or tablets. This can cause strain on the eyes, but a Baylor College of Medicine ophthalmologist offers advice for parents on how their child can maintain good eye health throughout the school year.
“There are many problems that can result from students spending a lot of time on their tablets, smart phones or laptops,” said Dr. Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor. “The term ‘computer vision syndrome’ was coined in the 1990s to describe symptoms resulting from spending too much time on these display devices.”
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, eye redness and dry eyes. Al-Mohtaseb says that based on a recent study, this syndrome affects 90 percent of people who spend three hours or more a day at a computer. “In reality, people spend around 12 hours a day either looking at their phone or their computers,” she said.
Dry eyes and eye strain are treatable but it is unknown what the long-term effect of the LED light from increased technology use will be. To avoid eye strain, Al-Mohtaseb says that it is important to relax your eyes and take breaks while you are using tablets.
She suggests a great rule to follow is the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes while working on the computer or tablet, she says to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. She also advises:
- Keeping the cell phone at arms length and enlarge the font size so you aren’t straining.
- Diming the light on the screen so there isn’t a big contrast between the screen and your surroundings, especially at night.
- Using anti-glare antireflective computer screens.
To maintain good eye health she recommends that students should spend time outdoors and off their screens.
“The new generation of kids spends so much more time on screens than they do outside. Good eye health for kids includes getting them outdoors and off their screens. Exercise and a healthy diet are also important, as well as limiting screen time to avoid the issues like eye strain,” said Al-Mohtaseb.
“If there is any concern with the eyes, kids and adults should see an ophthalmologist,” she said. “The best way to protect your eyes is to take good care of your health since many diseases can affect the eyes and to get yearly eye exams.”