Computer use has become a routine
part of kids' lives.
Surveys show the average American
child spends one to three hours daily on a computer while surfing the Internet,
doing homework, talking online with friends and playing video games. About 90%
of school-aged children in the U.S. have access to a computer at home or in
And kids are starting to use
computers at a younger age. Among college students who were interviewed, 20%
said they began using a computer before they were 9 years old.
A connection between computer use and
So how is all this computer use at a
young age affecting kids’ eyes?
Many eye doctors who specialize in
children’s vision say sustained computer use puts kids at higher risk for
myopia (nearsightedness). They point out that, though myopia affects
approximately 25% of the U.S. population, nearly 50% of adult computer users
with a college education are nearsighted. Computer use, especially among
youngsters whose eyes are still changing, may be the reason for this disparity.
Research seems to support this
theory. A study of 253 children between the ages of 6 and 10 at the University
of California at Berkeley School of Optometry found a strong correlation
between the amount of time young children spend on the computer and their
development of nearsightedness.
Why computers can be hard on kids’
Computer use stresses the eyes more
than reading a book or magazine because it’s harder to maintain focus on computer-generated
images than on printed images.
This is especially true for young
children, whose visual system is not fully developed.
According to the American Optometric
Association, children may be especially vulnerable to computer-related vision
Children have a
limited degree of self-awareness. They may perform a task on the computer for hours with few breaks.
This prolonged activity can cause focusing and eyestrain problems.
that what they see and how they see is normal – even if their vision is
impaired or slowly deteriorating.
smaller than adults.
Because computer workstations are often arranged for adult use, this can
increase the risk of children sitting too near the screen or adopting unusual
postures that can lead to eyestrain and neck, shoulder and back pain.
Tips for preventing Computer Vision
Syndrome in children
To prevent your child from developing
eyestrain and other CVS symptoms (including increasing myopia), follow these
Before they start school,
make sure your kids have a comprehensive eye exam--including an assessment of
their near-point (computer and reading) vision skills.
Make sure your child’s
computer workstation is arranged to suit body size. For children, the
recommended distance between the monitor and the eye is 18 to 28 inches to
avoid risk of eyestrain with closer viewing. Also, the screen should be a few
inches below the child's eyes. The chair should be adjusted so arms are
parallel with the desk surface and feet rest comfortably on the floor. These
adjustments help avoid posture problems and strained muscles.
Be aware of the signs and
symptoms of vision problems, such as eye redness, frequent rubbing of the eyes,
head turns and other unusual postures or complaints of blurriness or eye
fatigue. Avoidance of the computer or school work may also indicate a vision
If you suspect your child may be
developing a vision problem related to computer use, be sure to mention this
when you make an appointment for an eye exam. Your doctor may want to set aside
extra time to perform tests specifically designed to detect computer vision
For more information on myopia and
computer vision syndrome, visit All About Vision®.
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