Did you know? Your child is at greater risk of shortsightedness just by his/her computer use

Computer Vision Syndrome in Children

More and more children in the last 10 years spend longer hours on the computer in school and at home as 94% of Irish homes now own a computer with internet access. The use of Tablets is increasing all the time.

A survey revealed that from a daily average of 6.19 hours in 1997, children from 8 to 18 years are spending more time on entertainment media such as video games. The number climbed to 7.38 hours in 2009 as 29% of people in that age bracket already own a laptop while 13 to 18 year olds spend about 1.5 texting hours on their mobile phones.

The National Eye Institute said in Archives of Ophthalmology in December 2009 that nearsightedness rose by 66% in the U.S. populace. The rise over the last 30 years went from 25% to 41.6%.

Early myopia in children is feared by many paediatric eye doctors as a result of excessive computer use after it was found that myopia has risen by 59.8% in people who were studied for 12 or more years. Also, children are at a greater risk of developing computer vision syndrome (CVS) due to prolonged computer use causing eye strain. Non-serious vision problems are more likely because a child’s young eyes are unable to handle the stress of too much computer use.

Parents should know about how this overuse of modern appliances can affect their children’s vision.

-While engrossed in computer use, children’s eyes are strained as they forget to take breaks.

-Often, children are not aware of vision problems. Parents should have children who spend long hours in front of a computer checked for the advance of myopia.

-Children’s work station should be adjusted according to their size so that they will not strain their necks, back and shoulders and strain their eyes from awkward viewing angles. Their chair should be at a height where their feet can touch the floor, and the keyboard and monitor at an appropriate distance and height.

Reduce Eye Strain in Children with the Following Tips

Regular visit to an eye doctor or optometrist

If myopia or strain is suspected parents are advised to have their child’s vision completely checked at the beginning of each school year where they will undergo a full refraction and eye muscle examination

Control the time spent on the computer

Because children tend to use computers endlessly, parents should emphasize the importance of 20-second breaks every 20 minutes to prevent eye irritations and other eye focusing problems called the “20-20 rule.”

Ensure a child-friendly computer workstation

The workstation has to be suited to the child’s body size to avoid straining not only the eyes but other body parts as well. A distance of 18 to 28 inches between the monitor and the eyes is ideal.

Install proper lighting in the workstation

The amount of lighting surrounding the work station should be the same as that on the monitor to avoid eye strain. Glare from windows and other sources should be away from the child’s direct vision.

The physical development of a child may also be affected by prolonged computer use. In view of this, researchers issued a number of guidelines to help parents whose children are always on the computer.

  • Parents should limit a child’s use of the computer, as well as other electronic devices, to 2 hours a day. In case longer hours are necessary, frequent breaks and posture changes should be encouraged. Children also need to regularly do other activities that require more physical action.
  • Other than proper workstation that ensures correct height, distance and angle of desk, chair, monitor and keyboard, a child has to be taught to follow proper postures. They should also learn to use document holders that can be positioned right next to the monitor for ease of viewing. Glare needs to be minimized, too.
  • In carrying laptop or notebook computers, a child should be encouraged to use a backpack (using both straps) and to switch postures regularly to avoid straining the back and shoulders.
  • Help avoid further physical strains by teaching the child to type with less force and use keyboard commands to minimize the use of the mouse. These can cause pain in the wrist and knuckles.
  • Explain the importance of taking frequent breaks to the child and why they are needed to eliminate any discomfort caused by computer use but if the discomfort persists you may need to consult a doctor.

More relative information may be read on Ergonomics, a complete professional journal published in April 2010.