Children's Vision and the New Classroom Technology
How Digital Devices Affect Your Eyes
"I think all these new technologies are pretty wonderful," says Sheedy, who is also a technology and vision expert with the American Optometric Association. But, he says, there are things we need to be aware of.
- Handheld devices cram a lot of text onto a very small screen. In order to see the small print, we need to hold it close to our eyes. "There's a muscle inside the eye that contracts so that you can focus," Sheedy says. At the same time, your eyes also need to cross, or come together. This can cause fatigue and eyestrain. So parents should advise kids to use handheld devices only for quick tasks, such as texting. Don't use them to read articles or documents, Sheedy says.
- Computers bring up a different issue, Sheedy tells WebMD. "One of the things about a computer is that the display is fixed on the desk.” With a magazine or book, we may flop down on the couch, put our feet up, or shift around a lot while we read. At a computer we sit for long periods in still, static positions. “And for kids, very often the work space and the sizes of the tables are not well-designed for them," he says. This can cause neck and back pain.
- Also, looking at a computer for long periods of time really fatigues the eyes, Sheedy says. This can result in eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, and trouble seeing far objects, a condition called computer vision syndrome. These symptoms usually go away once you stop using the computer.