Children More At Risk for Digital Eye Strain as Use of Devices Becomes More Common

Children and teens are spending more time using not only computers, but smart phones and other devices with smaller screens. VSP Vision Care optometrists are reporting nearly one-third of their patients suffer from symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as digital eye strain.

VSP Optometrist, Dr. Noah Eger with the Eger Eye Group in Coraopolis, says it’s not uncommon now to diagnose a kindergartener  or first grader with near-sightedness, something that used to show up in grades four or five.   

Dr. Eger describes some of the symptoms of digital eye strain as blurry vision, difficulty focusing on near objects, dry or irritated eyes, headaches and back or neck pain.    

To prevent these symptoms, he recommends the 20-20-20 rule.  That means stopping every 20 minutes during work with a digital device to focus on something that is 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Dr. Eger says proper lighting is also important.  He says you don’t want light behind you or directly over the display terminal shining down on the screen.  He adds that the devices should not be used regularly in the dark

Dr. Eger says the device should be the proper distance away from the user. He says for a computer screen, you should be at least two feet away from the display. For hand-held devices, there’s the Harmon distance, the amount of space between your elbow and your forefinger.

Dr. Eger says regular eye exams for children are important. He says the initial exam should be conducted at age 1, with exams again at ages 3 and 5, and yearly exams when the child enters school.