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eye-strain-in-kidsHas the extreme cold of the winter kept you and your kids indoors more than usual? If so, you have probably realized that they are spending more time on their smart phones, iPad, computers, or on their gaming systems, keeping themselves occupied while trying to combat cabin fever.

New studies show that this increased of use of technology could be causing eye strain for your kids. This eye strain can cause your children to experience things such as headaches or blurry vision.

If your children are like many, they use their iPad on long car trips, a smartboard at school, and seemed to have grown an appendage out of their hand that looks an awful lot like an iPhone. This is just everyday life for them. But as parents, we need to limit their time on the screens.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for in your kids that point to eye strain are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Dry, sore eyes

It is important to teach your children how to take a break from technology. Here are a few ways to help ease eye strain.

  • Make time for other activities. Exercise is obviously one of the best activities for your children to do; however, simply spending time away from the screen is important, whether it’s going for a walk or cleaning their room. Board games for some family time are a great alternative.
  • Proper distance. Your child should not be right up against the screen. If you find they are constantly sitting close to the TV or have their phone/iPad in their face it might be an indicator that they are having trouble seeing.
  • Blink often. When children, even teens, stare at a screen for long periods of time they have a tendency to blink less often. This can cause the eyes to dry out and may cause discomfort and pain. Be sure to remind them that even when they are intently focused on the screen that it is important to blink.
  • Look away. A good rule of thumb is the 20-20-20 rule…for every 20 min of use you should be looking away from the screen for at least 20 seconds and focus on an object that is 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a chance for a break so that they are able to focus better.

As with anything else, the key to vision health is moderation. While playing on the iPad will not immediately hurt your child’s vision or cause discomfort, prolonged over usage will lead to eye discomfort and may lead to eye difficulties.

About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.