Danger: Digital Eye Strain

Dana Wilkosz, Photo by Kristin Gladney

Considering that 83 percent of kids between the ages of 10 and 17 spend at least three hours a day on an electronic device, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), it’s no surprise that all that screen time is taking a toll on their eyes. In fact, it can lead to a condition known as digital eye strain, says Lori Roberts, O.D., an optometrist in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and chair of the AOA’s New Technology Committee.

“Between computers, TVs, smartphones, and tablets, kids today are exposed to blue light more than ever before,” she says.

Focusing on a blue light device for a long time decreases the blink rate, which can make eyes dry and irritated. Plus, some research suggests blue light can cause inflammation in the eyes that may lead to long-term damage. The best way to prevent digital eye strain is by limiting kids’ screen time, but these tips can also help:

PRACTICE THE 20-20-20 RULE.

Every 20 minutes, have your child take 20 seconds to focus on something 20 feet away to give her eyes a break.

CHECK HER POSITION.

Your child should sit 20 to 28 inches away from her computer screen. When she uses a handheld device, have her hold it slightly below eye level with her arm extended out as far as is comfortably possible.

DIM THE LIGHT.

Check the device’s brightness setting to make sure it isn’t at the max. Around 50 percent brightness is best.

ENLARGE THE FONT.

Squinting at tiny letters can cause eye strain.

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