Computers and smartboards are a common staple in today's classrooms, but now with programs such as "bring your own device" (BYOD) to school, smartphones and tablets are seeing increased use in schools as well. It's clear to us at Today's Vision that the use of these technologies is evolving from a trend to a necessity, even among the youngest students.
According to a recent survey, 85 percent of parents indicate their children use an electronic device up to four hours per day. The survey also indicates 41 percent of children have their own smartphone or tablet and 32 percent use both e-books and textbooks at school. Additionally, two-thirds of children use a computer or tablet to do homework or study. With the consistent use of electronic devices throughout the day and evening, children of all ages can face a number of visual challenges. Although ongoing use won't damage vision, regular, lengthy use of technology at school or for homework can lead to a temporary vision condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms of CVS can include eye strain, headaches, fatigue, burning or tired eyes, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision or head and neck pain. Any of these symptoms indicate the need for an eye exam.
Parents should also watch for these age-specific signs of vision problems: Preschool and Kindergarten:
- One or both eyes turn inward or outward
- Rubbing eyes or blinking excessively
- Difficulty recognizing colors, shapes, letters and numbers
- Child loses their place frequently when reading
- Frequent headaches during the school week or while performing close up visual work
- Child's grades high in non-visual classes and lower in more visually-focused classes like math or reading
Middle and High School:
- Needing frequent visual breaks when reading
- Performing with a lowered level of comprehension or efficiency
- Experiencing discomfort, fatigue or have a short attention span
All students should rest their eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule. When using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.