Many children work at a computer each day. Sitting in front of a computer screen for prolonged periods of time may cause the eyes to strain. When looking at a computer screen, our eyes actually focus behind the screen, forcing the eyes to adjust constantly. Extensive viewing of a computer may cause bothersome symptoms in adults as well as children such as eye discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches. These symptoms, when associated with computer use, are collectively referred to as computer vision syndrome (CVS). The list below will teach you ways to prevent computer vision syndrome in children.
1. Watch for symptomsParents should be aware of symptoms that may indicate computer vision syndrome, such as eye redness, frequent eye rubbing, unusual postures, or complaints of blurriness or eye fatigue. Avoiding the computer may also be an indication that a child is experiencing discomfort from computer vision syndrome.
2. Check the lighting of the roomMake sure there is no glare on the computer screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of the monitor. When this occurs, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Close curtains or blinds to reduce the amount of light coming through your windows. Glare screens (available in office supply stores) can be added to a monitor to reduce glare, too.
3. Check the height of the computerComputer workstations should be arranged to suit your child--not an adult. The size of the child should determine where to place the monitor and keyboard. The computer monitor must not be too high for the child. The screen should be tilted slightly downward at a 15-degree angle. An adjustable chair that can be raised may solve this problem. A foot stool may also be necessary to support the child's feet. Keep in mind that the recommended distance between the monitor and the child is about two feet.
4. Limit the amount of time your child is allowed to use the computerMonitor your child's time on the computer, watching for signs of fatigue. Children tend to have a minimum degree of self-awareness, often ignoring feelings of discomfort. Encourage your child to take frequent breaks. A 10-minute break every hour will allow the eyes to rest, minimizing the development of eye irritation caused by constant focusing and reduced blinking. (People tend to blink less often when concentrating, especially when working on a computer.)
5. Have your child's eyes examinedA comprehensive eye examination will determine if your child sees clearly and comfortably. An eye doctor can detect any hidden conditions that may cause eye strain. It is most important that near-point vision be checked carefully, as computer use is a near-point activity. If needed, the doctor may prescribe a pair of special glasses, called computer glasses, to be worn while working on the computer.