Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Eye health is a constant concern in our household. My grandmother went blind around the age of 50 of a rare eye disorder. The only way I ever knew her growing up was with her being blind. My grandfather had to help her do everything, and when he passed away she needed 24-7 help at home. She accommodated to her new life with learning braille and listening to audio books, but she said she was sad she could not see her grandkids. I loved my grandmother so much. She was honest, open, caring, and such a brave woman.
My husband also recently found out that he suffers from a degenerative eye disorder called Keratoconus. It’s something he has to watch and deal with, and since we both wear glasses and have issues with our eyes we are concerned for our kids. If there is anything to help protect our kids from having eye issues we want to do that for them. I am vigilant with check-ups and taking care of my eyes, so I need to use that same care with my kids. In fact, back to school is the perfect time for a check-up for them!
The use of technology among children both at home and in the classroom is on the rise, and a new survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. I know I personally am not good with restricting my kids from the iPad and iPod as much as I should. My daughter also just got a 3DS for her birthday. I do worry the toll the technology will have on my kids in many ways. Eye health being one of those worries.
Sadly, the reports from the AOA revealed that 83 percent of children ages 10-17 use an electronic device for 3+ hours per day, with 80 percent of surveyed children reporting that they experience burning, itchy and/or tired eyes after using these devices for long periods of time. These are symptoms of digital eye strain! I’ve seen my kids rub their eyes and seem “tired” after playing on their devices.
To help prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with digital eye strain and exposure to blue light, the AOA recommends the following (which I am going to be starting to enforce in our home):
- Children should make sure they practice the 20-20-20 rule: when using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
- Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
- Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
- Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
- Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
- Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.
I’m so glad I was able to learn more from the AOA by participating in this program, and I can’t wait to start some new rules in the house with our technology devices. Not only will I make adjustments from the suggestions of the AOA above, but I will also make more restrictions on time using devices. With all the issues we have in our family with eye health, taking care of these young eyes have to be of the upmost importance.