Computer Vision Syndrome and Fatigue in Children

Computer vision syndrome and fatigue is taking its toll on youngsters as more and more children use computers at school and at home.

Pediatric eye doctors are finding evidence that the risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia) has increased in relation to using computers. For example, since 1995 nearsightedness in first-graders has increased over 68%.

Children’s Eyes are Different From Adults’ Eyes

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Children’s eyes are not fully developed. Consequently, they are more susceptible to computer vision syndrome and fatigue. This is caused by the strain of viewing images and text on a monitor.

Children are not focusing on distances as often as they did prior to classroom computer use. This means they are training their vision for near and intermediate viewing, and may not fully develop their ability to see at distances.

Children spend more time playing computer games today at the expense of field games and physical activities that develop their distance vision.

An article posted by the American Optometric Association (AOA) titled “Impact of Computer Use on Children's Vision” points out that children will play computer games for hours on end. They lose track of time and become completely absorbed by their game.

The AOA article goes on to explain that children who focus at a single target for long periods may have trouble refocusing smoothly on objects at other distances. It pointed out how computer use can dry children's eyes.

Tear flow is reduced because the child’s increased concentration reduces blinking. The child is often looking up at the monitor, exposing his eyes to more evaporation. Dryness and irritation, two major complications of computer vision syndrome and fatigue, results.

Lighting is another concern. Lighting that is normal for a classroom is too bright for computer use. It causes glare and strains eyes that try to adjust to different light levels. The light level should be about half that of the normal classroom for computer use.

Recommendations

  • Eye exams: A pediatric eye doctor can alert you to any complications that might increase eyestrain. He can also prescribe computer glasses, therapy and make recommendations that are specific to your child’s vision. Computer glasses reduce the amount of effort eyes must make to focus on the text and images on monitors.
  • Time limits: Make sure your children take at least ten minutes break every hour.
  • Ergonomics: The computer chair, desk, keyboard and monitor heights need to be appropriate for the size of your child. If you have only one computer station, at least make sure you have an adjustable height chair and a footstool, if needed. His feet should be flat on either the floor or another surface.
  • Lighting and windows shouldn’t cause glare or reflections off the screen, and lighting should be dimmed to about the same level as the computer screen.

    Warning Signs for Computer Vision Syndrome

    Your child may be suffering from CVS if he rubs his eyes frequently, complains of sore eyes or blurry vision, his eyes are often red. He may indicate that he is physically uncomfortable by changing positions frequently (squirming), sits in odd positions or seems to avoid the computer altogether.


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