Digital devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and video gaming devices have played a vital part in our daily lives, especially as much of education has shifted to an e-learning model.
Unfortunately, this has resulted in some health issues; among them, one of the most commonplace and worrisome is “digital eye strain”. Dr. Nandini Sankaranarayanan, a specialist ophthalmologist elaborated more on this growing health problem.
Digital eye strain results from spending long hours staring on digital devices. Common symptoms include watering, itching , stinging or burning sensation, with tiredness and ache. Sometimes, there may be blurring vision and headache after intense use of digital devices. Until recently, this condition was commonly seen among IT professionals. But lately, many children as young as four years of age are consulting with an ophthalmologist with this problem.
With the shifting of schools to e-learning due to the current pandemic, children now spend longer durations with gadgets. It’s significant that we teach our children the correct ways to use digital devices without straining their eyes.
Here are some handy tips for children using digital devices for long durations.
Make sure that they sit in well-lit rooms, ensure the device has a large screen and avoid using small decrees like mobile phones or tablets.
Moreover, the screen should be about 40 to 50 centimeters from the eyes with a tilt of 10 to 20 degrees, and jest below the eye level for comfortable viewing. Encourage them to take a break from the screen every 20 minutes or so, and look at some far off object about 20 feet away from 20 seconds before resuming work on the screen. This is called 20-20-20 rule which enables relief for the eye muscles.
Furthermore, it’s advisable to use break times to rest and relax the eyes and avoid using digital devices during breaks. Encourage them to blink more often; the blink rate of eyes comes down to about 3 to 4 from a normal blink rate of 12 to 15 every minute, as one works on the screen over a long period. This hampers the spreading of tear-film and moisture, causing dry patches and discomfort in the eyes. For any online extracurricular activities, it’s suggested to cast it on television, which has a bigger screen and can be viewed from far off distance without strain on the eyes. And finally, avoid screen-related activities about 1 to 2 hours prior to bedtime.
It will go a long way to follow the aforementioned tips in avoiding digital eye strain, especially for children. In spite of all these precautions, it’s not unusual for a child to complain of redness, watering and itching, blurring, headache and in severe cases, squinting of the eyes.
In any cases above mentioned, immediate consultation must be sought from a qualified specialist ophthalmologist who will thoroughly evaluate their eye health and give appropriate treatment. The ophthalmologist is capable of detecting refractive problems or squint in the eyes which the child and parents may not be aware of.
The only connection for our children with the outside world in these challenging times are through these digital devices. Rather than admonishing them for using these devices, teach them the proper way of utilizing them for their benefits.