All about eye strain.
One of the most common complaints of frequent computer users is the pain caused by eye strain. Children suffer from eye strain just as much as adults, but do not usually detect this in themselves.
Staring at the computer monitor – or indeed any type of screen – for prolonged periods of time tends to take its toll on their eyes. Whether the problems that arise are completely new, or are simply pre-existing issues which have been made worse by excessive use, there are a few important symptoms you need to look out for in children if you’re concerned about eye strain:
- Eye discomfort;
- Tired, itchy, sore or burning eyes;
- Watery eyes;
- Increased sensitivity to light;
- Dry eyes;
- Difficulty focusing;
While eye strain can be irritating and uncomfortable, it is important to remember that it is not generally a serious problem and should go away with rest. All the same, it’s still a pain. Especially in case of children instilling good habits when using computers can avoid a lot of discomfort in the longer term.
Doing an eye test to check for any underlying issues needs to be your first stop on the path to relieve eye strain. If your children (or you!) spend a lot of time behind the computer, you should be having an eye exam once a year to verify all is well.
While talking to your eye doctor, make sure you tell them how much time is spent working with screens on a daily or weekly basis. If possible, try to measure how far kids tend to sit from the screen (a rough estimate will do the job if needs be) so that your doctor can test their eyes appropriately.
The simplest and most important step towards avoiding eye strain is to ensure children take frequent breaks. Even stepping away from the computer every now and then to get a glass of water can give their eyes some much needed rest.
While research is not conclusive about an exact length of time or frequency for these breaks, it is useful to know that it can often be more beneficial to take lots of short breaks than one long one.
It is easy to forget about taking breaks. To avoid this set alarms so that children know it is time to take a break
The right screen.
Upgrading your screen to a newer model could be the best solution.
Modern screens are easier on the eyes because they have a higher resolution and an anti-reflective surface which will further help you to avoid eye strain. Older models tend to flicker a little more, which can lead to the symptoms described above.
Change the setup.
Sometimes, the most effective way to avoid eye strain in the long run is by rearranging your computer desk. For example, one contributing factor is the time spent alternating between looking up at the screen and down at a piece of paper. This problem can be avoided easily by investing in a stand, or even just setting up a pile of books which you can prop paper up on next to the screen.
Bad posture is also an issue to be aware of while working at a desk. Always make sure that the desk and chair are at the best possible height in relation to each other: the centre of your screen should be about 10-15 degrees below your eye line, while the screen itself should be about 55 cm / 22 inch from your face.
Kids don’t have to leave the room every time they want to rest their eyes. Encourage them to simply look away from the screen at things in the distance or the wall every now and then. Contrary to popular belief, staring out the window can be a good thing!
Staring into the distance also relaxes the eye muscle, which leads to reduced eye fatigue. Try it yourself next time you pause to think at your computer.
Hit the lights.
Eye strain can also occur as a result of excessive sunlight or harsh lighting in a room. This can be easily avoided: opt for softer lighting rather than fluorescent lights. Close the curtains or blinds. Adjust the brightness of the screen. Do whatever you can to minimise the amount of harsh light.
Get in touch.
Have you discovered any unexpected ways of minimising the impact of eye strain? Let us know, so we can add it to the list!