Computer vision syndrome in kids occurs from prolonged computer use. Children who experience computer vision syndrome symptoms are advised to take steps to minimize eye and neck strain.

Computer vision syndrome is a group of vision issues that occur as a result of prolonged computer use. Experts believe that computer vision syndrome is contributing to the increase in the last decade’s increasing number of children diagnosed with myopia, or nearsightedness. While computer use is an inevitable part of how the new generation learns and communicates, there are steps children and families can take to reduce the visual harm that may be caused by computer vision syndrome.

Computer Vision Syndrome

According to the American Optometric Association, the symptoms of computer vision syndrome increase alongside the amount of time spent on the computer. The discomfort that results from computer vision syndrome typically depends on the child’s visual abilities as well. Symptoms may be exacerbated by pre-existing visual conditions such as astigmatism, farsightedness, and eye coordination or focusing issues. In adults, computer vision syndrome symptoms may increase with age-related visual changes such as presbyopia.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include:

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Shoulder and neck pain

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

Viewing a computer screen presents unique issues that may not occur during other reading activities, such as reading printed books. These issues may occur due to several factors. Contributing factors may include contrast between the words and the background on which the words are presented, reflections and glare on the computer screen, and text that may not be sharply defined.

Computer vision syndrome may be caused by any combination of the following conditions:

  • Computer screen glare
  • Poor lighting while using the computer
  • Poor posture while sitting at the computer
  • Non-ideal distances from the computer during viewing
  • Uncorrected existing vision problems

Tips for Kids’ Computer Use

Children may reduce computer vision syndrome symptoms with the following tips:

  • Adjusting computer height and position. Looking slightly downward may reduce the amount of stress on a child’s visual system, as well as the shoulders and neck. It is recommended to position the computer screen roughly 15-to-20 degrees below eye level, or about 4-to-5 inches. The screen should also be 20-to-28 inches from the eyes.
  • Taking periodic breaks. The 20/20/20 rule has been suggested for implementing adequate computer break times. The 20/20/20 rule states that every 20 minutes, the child should focus on an object at least 20 feet away from the computer screen for 20 seconds or longer. Additionally, the child should take at least a 10-minute break from the computer every hour.
  • Reducing glare and reflections. If possible, position the monitor to reduce glare or reflections which may add strain to the child’s eyes. This can be reduced by avoiding light sources and windows directly in front of the computer monitor.

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