Preventing eye strain in children, adults

SPOKANE, Wash. — Some parents may be concerned that the extra screen time their child is getting with virtual school will have a negative impact on their eyes.

This is true for kids and adults. But just how bad does it get?

4 News Now spoke with an eye doctor with MultiCare who says the biggest concern is eye strain.

And it’s not necessarily time in front of a screen that leads to this – but any kind of ‘near work’, meaning looking at a computer screen up close or even reading a book.

Eye strain can cause dry and itchy eyes, headaches, muscle pain behind the eyes and even blurry vision for some people.

Dr. Lauren Gioia, an ophthalmologist with MultiCare, advises that parents and families remind their children, if they can, to blink often to prevent eye strain.

As eye strain can happen to both children and adults, both can also benefit from the remedies.

“The American Academy of Ophthalmology actually recommends that about every 20 minutes when doing near work, so using screens or reading book, every 20 minutes to look about 20 feet away or further for at least 20 seconds,” said Gioia. “They actually refer to it as the 20-20-20 rule.”

Dr. Gioia says any type of ‘near work’ can worsen near-sightedness in developing children.

But more than that, she’s concerned about the eye fatigue that can come with it.

“I’m more concerned with problems like attention issues when they’re looking at screens all the time for long periods of time and just general fatigue and not being able to pay attention for long periods of time to what they’re supposed to be learning,” said Gioia.

She says blue light glasses that are ‘anti-fatigue’ are a possible fix to that problem if it’s affordable for you.

However, it could cause issues with your sleep-wake cycle.

To help prevent fatigue and eye strain, adjust your screen to eye level.

Don’t look up or down at your laptop or computer.

Make sure you don’t have any light behind you glaring on your screen.

And try to limit the time you spend in front of a screen outside of work and school hours.

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