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Children's Vision and the New Classroom Technology

How You Can Help Prevent Eyestrain

You can help your child prevent eyestrain, as well as neck and back pain, by taking these steps:

  • Place the screen between 20 to 28 inches away from your child's eyes. Align the top of the screen at eye level so that children look down at the screen while they work.
  • Use low-watt bulbs in lighting fixtures as well as drapes or blinds to reduce glare from windows.
  • Choose a comfortable, supportive chair positioned so that the child's feet are flat on the floor.
  • Encourage children to move around and change positions while working.
  • Suggest that they limit leisure screen time to two hours or less a day. This includes watching TV, playing video games, and using mobile phones.
  • Teach kids to rest their eyes. Every 20 minutes, tell them to look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also remind children to blink regularly to prevent dry, irritated eyes.
  • Take notice if children are squinting, frowning at the screen, or rubbing their eyes, says Hoenig. These are all signs of eyestrain. Make sure their prescription wear is up to date.
  • Glasses may be needed for some people with computer vision syndrome. A single or bifocal lens, or tinted lens material, may help increase contrast perception and filter out glare and reflective light to reduce symptoms of eye strain.



Using 3D: The Newest Classroom Technology

3D is an exciting and fun new technology being used in many classrooms all across the country. Sheedy, along with other vision health experts, was involved in the recent AOA report, "3D in the Classroom: See Well, Learn Well." It conclusively states that watching 3D images does not harm children's eyesight. In fact, says Sheedy, "viewing 3D is actually a pretty good screening mechanism for people who've got vision problems."

In order to see something in 3D, each eye needs to process a separate image, Sheedy explains. The 3D glasses help us do that. Your eyes need to converge, or come together, to see the 3D objects that appear closer to you, yet your focus remains on the main display screen. This challenges our eye coordination and eye focusing skills. Thus, it can reveal weaknesses in our vision that aren't detected in simple vision tests.

While the majority of people don't have problems viewing 3D, some experience eyestrain, headaches, nausea, discomfort, or dizziness, says Hoenig. Others just can't see the 3D images. This may be a sign of eye health problems such as lazy eye, poor focusing and coordination skills, or vision misalignment. Hoenig and Sheedy both recommend that parents ask children how they feel after viewing 3D. If the child complains of any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment for a full eye exam that includes testing eye coordination and focusing skills. The good news is that most of these children's vision problems can be treated with glasses or contact lenses. 

Both experts also suggest having an eye exam at the beginning of each school year. "At this time of year when you're buying notebooks and school clothes, you ought to be thinking of getting the eyes ready for school," Sheedy says. "The eyes are pretty important to the learning process."

Reviewed on July 30, 2012

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