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How to Prevent Eye Strain During Online Learning

By Karen Heslop

It's been said that too much screen time can negatively impact a child's vision. However, now that many schools have switched to a virtual classroom, how do you protect your child's eyes? Let's look at why screen time needs to be controlled and the best ways to do that. 

Why Does Screen Time Hurt the Eyes?

When children focus on television, computer, or phone screens for too long, it strains their eyes. Medical professionals call this asthenopia or eye fatigue. Some of the symptoms of eye fatigue include discomfort in the eyes, headache, and decreased sharpness in vision. 

Sometimes, children who are suffering from eye fatigue will also complain about being tired and lose interest in activities like reading. If the screen has a glare, that will increase the likelihood of eye fatigue as well. 

Other issues that arise from prolonged screen time are the development of dry, irritated eyes and problems with focusing on images in the distance. In the former case, children's eyes dry out from staring at the screen without blinking. Since blinking moisturizes the eyes, decreased blinking will cause irritation. 

If your child has been staring at a screen for too long, the brain gets used to processing close images. After that time, it can take up to a few days for the brain to adjust to seeing images that are far away.

Tips for Preventing Eye Strain

Since limiting screen time is out of question, these are the best ways to protect your child's vision.

  • Get the right sized screen - According to eye care professionals, the smaller a screen is, the harder your child's eyes have to work to keep looking at it. Therefore, it's better for them to use computers than phones. 
  • Set the right distance - Children who are using a phone should be at least a foot away from it. Computers require two feet of distance and it's best to sit 10 feet away from a television screen. 
  • Cut down on the glare - Regardless of which device your child is using, adjust the brightness settings so the glare isn't making eye strain worse.
  • Practice the 20-20-20-2 rule - Encourage your child to look away from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, then blink 20 times.  At the end of learning, they also need 2 hours of outdoor time daily.

Online learning has opened a new world of possibilities but it's also introduced some new challenges. It's essential to find ways to keep your children healthy no matter what this changing world throws at you. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in College Station, Tex.

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