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Digital Eye Strain: Kids, Digital Devices and Eye Damage

Nowadays, digital devices are part of our children's everyday activities. It's common for school-age children to use a digital device for hours each day, and that doesn't include time spent in front of a TV or gaming system at home.

This increased exposure puts them at greater risk for digital eye strain - a condition that can cause back and neck pain, dry eyes, and headaches, and many eye health professionals suggest that this exposure may contribute to the development of nearsightedness, the difficulty to see far away. This is especially important in Asia, due to the high prevalence rate of nearsightedness. In Hong Kong, nearsightedness impacts 76% of the population or 5.6 million people.

It is generally quoted that 80% of what we learn is visual, which means that digital eye strain may have a major impact on students' productivity and classroom performance. So what steps can you take to help prevent digital eye strain and other vision-related problems?

How to Prevent Digital Eye Strain Problems

Be sure your kids visit a registered optometrist for regular eye examinations. Without a proper prescription, children could experience difficulties seeing the whiteboard or reading their textbooks at school. Based on the manner and frequency of digital device usage, eyewear can also assist the eyes in focusing more comfortably and reduce eye strain while using these devices.

Other practical steps, such as screen placement and timed breaks, can help prevent digital eye strain before it starts. Remind your child to give their eyes frequent breaks and look at something approximately 6 meters away.

More Easy Tips to Prevent Digital Eye Strain

Daily Dose It As with TV viewing, digital device usage should be timed according to age (see the chart below for guidelines). Remember the old adage, all things in moderation, and apply it to all digital devices.

De-Glare It Keep the screen clean and use a glare-reducing filter, if appropriate.

Break It Every hour, have your child take a 5-10-minute break from the digital device (the same goes for you).

Face It The screen should be 50-60 cm from your child's face (ditto for mom and dad). And, his or her feet need to touch the floor. There should be a slight downward angle from face to screen.

Wear It If your child wears prescription glasses-for digital device usage or otherwise-make sure he or she has them on.

Age Suggested Time Limit (maximum)
Under 10 30 minutes a day
10-13 1 hour a day
14-15 2 hours a day
16-18 Parents' best judgment