TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Computers and smartboards are a common staple in today’s classrooms, with smartphones and tablets are seeing increased use as well.
According to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) 2013 American Eye-Q 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, 66 percent of children use a computer or tablet to do homework or study. With the consistent use of electronic devices children of all ages can face a number of visual challenges.
“When children stare at screens for hours each day, it may cause visual discomfort that can interfere with their ability to focus and learn,” said Dr. Kimberly Friedman, AOA spokesperson and pediatric vision specialist. “As a mom and an eye doctor, I know first-hand just how important it is for school-aged children to receive comprehensive eye examinations prior to heading back into a classroom.”
Ongoing use won’t damage vision,however, 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. The AOA urges students to 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.
VISION WARNING SIGNS
Are my child’s eyes aligned properly or does one or both eyes turn inward or outward?
Does my child frequently rub his or her eyes or blink excessively when doing near work?
Does my child experience difficulty recognizing colors, shapes, letters and numbers?
Do words seem to “swim” on a screen or in a printed book or do they lose their place frequently when reading?
Does my child experience frequent headaches during the school week or while performing close up visual work?
Are my child’s grades high in non-visual classes and lower in other, more visually-focused classes like math or reading?
How long can my child read before they need to take a visual break?
Does my child perform with a lowered level of comprehension or efficiency?
Does my child experience discomfort, fatigue or have a short attention span?
Squinting while reading or watching television.
Turning or tilting head or covering an eye.
Consistently performing below potential or struggling to complete homework.
Having behavioral problems.
The AOA also warns that one in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem simply because they may not recognize their eyesight isn’t optimal or is changing.
The eighth annual American Eye-Q survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 15-18, 2013 using an online methodology, PSB interviewed 1,000 Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of U.S. general population. (Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level).
Visit www.aoa.org for more information.