How Computers Affect Children’s Eyesight

Computers, cell phones and tablets are now commonplace in the world of adults as well as children.

According to the study “Impact of computer use on children’s vision” (Impact of computer use on children’s vision), conducted by N. Kozeis, from the pediatric ophthalmology unit of the Hippokratio Hospital, Thessaloniki (Greece), some aspects of the way children use computers may make them more susceptible than adults to develop vision problems, since most children are able to perform entertainment tasks (e.g., playing video games or watching cartoons), with high concentration, for many hours, taking few or no breaks, and with little or no vision problems.

Short-term consequences of screens

Continued exposure to screens can cause blurred vision, itchy eyes, headaches, dry eyes and eyestrain in adults and children. These consequences may be due to poor lighting, glare, improper workplace layout, untreated vision problems or a combination of several of these factors. Children may experience the symptoms of computer use even more than adults.

Long-term consequences of screens

Continued activity without breaks may require excessive effort to focus. When a person, whether adult or child, spends too much time staring with intense concentration, the frequency of blinking decreases, which prevents proper tear distribution and promotes dry eye. Also, placing screens higher than a book or magazine forces the eyes to open wider, which promotes tear evaporation. Children adapt well to different environments and often ignore problems such as harsh lighting. In addition, they are often unaware that they have blurred vision caused by a refractive error, as they believe that everyone else sees the same way they do.

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5 Tips to protect children’s eyesight at the computer

Keep in mind that children have different needs than adults to use a computer comfortably. To reinforce proper viewing habits and ensure a comfortable and pleasant use of screens, it is important to make the child follow the following rules:

  1. Perform periodic visual check-ups with the ophthalmologist specialist to confirm that the child is seeing clearly and comfortably. If you use screens such as computers frequently, you should have at least an annual eye examination.
  2. Resting for about ten minutes for every hour of looking at the screen will prevent accommodation problems and eye irritation.
  3. Adjust the position of the computer to the child’s needs: the monitor and keyboard should be adjusted according to the child’s body parameters. The screen and the table should not be placed too high and the chair should not be too low. Sometimes, the child may need a stool to support his feet.
  4. Check the lighting to avoid reflections on the computer screen that may be created by windows or other light sources. When this occurs, the table or computer screen should be focused in a different direction.
  5. Adjust the lighting in the room, aiming for the space to be dimly lit rather than brightly lit from overhead.