Dr. Davis

Computer Vision Syndrome: Five Signs to Look for in Your Child

It is estimated that modern humans in developed countries spend an average of five hours each day viewing a computer screen. From work and communication to entertainment, and from mobile devices to desktops, laptops and notebooks, we stay connected. And sit. And slouch. And squint. You get the picture.


Gainesville, VA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/23/2012 -- If the computer environment your child is working in is not built for the task, all that time spent focused on screens can affect vision. It is also a good bet that children are investing in even more screen time than adults, performing academic tasks during the school day, then continuing to stay connected to friends electronically, playing computer games, and chatting it up on social media. All that time viewing close images on an illuminated screen unsurprisingly has an effect on vision. Signs your child might be experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome and the related Digital Eye Fatigue from extended screen viewing time include:

- Headaches
- Shoulder and neck aches
- Blurred or double vision
- Dry eyes
- Fatigue

Headaches are often the result of stressors to the eyes, including uncorrected vision problems such as farsightedness or nearsightedness. Corrective steps for those vision disorders should be taken to reduce eyestrain and headaches. Any additional oculomotor vision disorders, such as those involving tracking, binocular vision, strabismus, amblyopia treatment or convergence issues, should be addressed with a developmental vision exam and vision therapy to strengthen visual abilities and reduce their impact on eyestrain.

It may also prove helpful to wear magnification reading glasses, or to increase the font size on screen, so the eyes are not continually straining to read small print. Most reading glasses provide magnification for near distance work. Computer work should be occurring at between 20 to 26 inches from the eyes for a desktop screen, which would put the work in the intermediate distance range as opposed to the near distance range. Most reading glasses are designed to perform at near distance and are thus perhaps not ideally suited to this task.

A number of optical groups have developed lines of computer and gaming glasses addressing intermediate range viewing. Some lines are designed with coatings that reduce screen glare, further reducing eyestrain and the occurrence of headaches. Other opticians offer prescription glasses geared primarily to intermediate range viewing, as well as graduated lenses with near, intermediate and distance ranges.

Shoulder and neck aches can result from improper posture while viewing. As your children lounge around on sofas, floors and beds, it is likely they are not paying attention to optimum posture for long computer sessions. An adjustable office chair, with adequate padding that allows the screen to be viewed at a 15- to 20-degree angle, with feet on the floor, is optimum.

Blurred or double vision, either of short or prolonged duration after screen sessions, can be troublesome, but can be minimized by using the 20-20-20 rule of moving your gaze from the screen to something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, for every 20 minutes of screen time.

Dry, red eyes are also a common complaint with Computer Vision Syndrome. Since the operator’s gaze is often intense, going long periods without blinking, eyes become dry and red. Just remembering to blink can provide relief.

As with any intense work requiring concentration, screen time takes its toll by tiring us out. Rest breaks of 15 minutes for every two hours of screen time, with a brisk walk or at least some isometric exercise, will help to alleviate fatigue from long screen sessions.

The most important point to address is to have any vision disorders or complaints brought to the attention of a developmental physician like Dr. Tod Davis. Dr. Davis applies the experience of over 30 years, designing visual therapy programs for patients throughout the Eastern Virginia area, helping them to improve their visual abilities. In this electronic world, vision is valuable, so take these simple steps to protect and maintain good eyesight.

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