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Computer Eyestrain in School

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Many children and adults experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing screens such as computers, tablets, e-readers or cell phones for an extended period of time. Please see our previous blog on more information regarding blue light emitted from electronic devices.

The causes, as noted by the AOA, include:

  • Poor lighting
  • The glare on a digital screen
  • Improper viewing distance
  • Poor seating posture
  • Uncorrected vision problems
  • A combination of all of these factors

The symptoms, or what your child may experience, include (again from the AOA):

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Neck and shoulder pain

The key to avoiding vision problems is to practice good visual hygiene to reduce visual stress, and that includes the items listed below:

1.Start using the right light

It is least stressful for vision when the room brightness matches the computer brightness. Natural light and the type of light produced from incandescent bulbs are best for computer use.

  1. Reduce glare from your computer screen
  • Glare is a big no-no on your computer monitor.  Try to position your monitor so there is no reflection on your screen from a light or window. Talk to your eye doctor to see if non-glare on your glasses is the right choice for you.
  1. Use a comfortable size text  
  • Often, people have two or three monitors at their work station; it’s easy to find yourself straining at the small print on a secondary monitor.  Even if this isn’t your current setup, make sure you are viewing print that’s large enough for easy viewing. For most people, 14 point font is adequate.
  1. Use the Harmon distance
  • All near-point activity, whether you’re on the computer or reading a book, should be at the “Harmon distance.”  This is the distance from the center of the middle knuckle to the center of the elbow, measured on the outside of the arm.
  1. Stop slouching!
  • This can be a difficult habit to break, so discuss this with your children at an early age. Slouching in your chair will affect how you’re viewing your monitor.  Ideally, you want both eyes to be able to see the screen equally. Avoid slouching in a chair, or lying in a couch or bed.
  • Sit at a desk, with your feet flat on the floor, legs at a 90 degree angle and the monitor straight ahead.
  1. Focus on different objects 

You’ve probably heard of the 20-20-20 rule:  Every 20 minutes, focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  We agree with that for patients without functional vision problems, but for those that have problems we recommend taking a break every 10 minutes and focusing on an object at least 20 feet