Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we're seeing a lot of our kids spend an enormous amount of time in front of a computer. This has bad consequences not just for adults that have eye fatigue and strain, but especially in younger children who are still developing their vision. Our visual system needs to be actively involved in using all our space. Not just our close distances like reading and computers, but also moving outside in an infinite space setting like a playground.
Our visual system uses being outdoors to kind of recalibrate, and have good functional focusing ability. Studies show that children who are indoors a lot like in China tend to have higher degrees of myopia or nearsightedness.
The ability to be outside, to play, and have sports is very important for the visual system.
Here are a couple of things we can recommend for your child or young adult that might be spending a lot of time in front of the screen.
First of all, I would suggest the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen, hopefully, 20 feet or more. Looking outside a window is ideal. Relax your eyes for about 20 seconds. This will be a visual break. If your teacher doesn't like it, tell them your eye doctor is recommending this. You can still listen to what your teacher is saying, however, you should relax your focus periodically.
Also, make sure that when you are reading or writing that you are no closer than the Harmon distance. The Harmon distance is between knuckle and elbow. If you see your child getting closer and closer to their work, check their Harmon distance and move them back. This is very effective when dealing with younger children. I did this with my daughter when she was 4, and she would check her Harmon distance by putting her elbow on the desk and backing her head up to her knuckles. If you see the children are still doing this a lot, have them checked by a developmental optometrist because, very often, a low plus lens can help the child relax their focus.
You can also make sure that if your child is experiencing eye pain, strain, discomfort, double vision or blur, that you get them in to see their developmental optometrist. We can prescribe glasses for their best comfort at near. We want to preserve our vision & our children's vision & keep our nation strong despite this pandemic.