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An Optometrist Guide To Back To School Eye Care: Preventing Digital Eye Strain In Children

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An Optometrist Guide To Back To School Eye Care: Preventing Digital Eye Strain In Children

Growing up, your parents probably told you not to sit too close to the television to protect your eyes. Nowadays, children are glued to iPads, smartphones, and other digital devices that are kept only inches away from their faces. Technology has become a part of everyday life for kids both for education and social purposes. If you are wondering if all of this screen time is affecting your child's vision and eye health, the short answer is: Yes, it does. It is not realistic to think that your child will stop using modern-day technology to protect their eyes. However, there are some easy ways to decrease your child's risk of eye and vision problems from the prolonged use of digital devices.

Risks Associated With Too Much Screen Time In Children

Digital technology has provided many benefits such as easier access to entertainment, education, and communication, however, overexposure and prolonged use of digital devices can also have detrimental effects on your child's vision and eye health. Digital eye strain is a condition that is caused by visual stress from extended screen time. Several factors can cause digital eye strain such as:

  • Screen glare
  • Blue light
  • Poor posture while using a computer, iPad, or smartphone
  • Using a digital device at too close of an angle

Many symptoms of digital eye strain are short-term (temporary). They often go away after your child is finished with their screen time, however, some symptoms may continue for a longer period of time. Common symptoms include:

  • Eye discomfort
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dry Eye
  • Eye redness and itchiness
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Blurred or double vision

If your child is suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, book a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist so they can diagnose and treat your child's digital eye strain before more serious eye conditions can develop.

How To Protect Your Child From Digital Eye Strain

Take Frequent Breaks

One of the best ways to protect your child from digital eye strain is by encouraging frequent breaks using the ‘20-20-20’ rule. Every 20 minutes, have your child take a break from looking at their screen and ask them to look at something that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Research shows that by following the “20-20-20” rule, the exercise can help realign eye muscles and reduce eye strain. 

Blue Light Protection

Excessive exposure to blue light from digital screens and the sun can cause damage to your child's retinas and disrupt their body's natural circadian rhythm. Damage to the light-sensitive cells in your child's retinas can lead to macular degeneration, an eye condition that causes permanent vision loss. Blue light also suppresses the body's release of melatonin, which can affect the quality and length of your child's sleep. To protect your child from blue light exposure, you can purchase glasses with blue light filters in the lenses and use polarized sunglasses outdoors.

Visit Your Childs Optometrist For Regular Eye Exams

The Canadian Association Of Optometrists recommends that all children receive a child's eye exam annually. During your child's eye exam, the optometrist will perform several vision tests and will examine the health of your child's eyes. The eye doctor will be able to determine if your child is suffering from digital eye strain while ensuring your child’s vision is developing optimally with no concern for any eye conditions such as nearsightedness. If your child is suffering from digital eye strain, your optometrist will be able to provide you with advice on how to prevent digital eye strain on your child and recommend treatment options.  

Calgary Child’s Eye Exams

With the mainstream availability of technology, it can be difficult keeping your child away from digital screens. Digital technology is now used in schools, most jobs, and is an integral source of social interaction and entertainment for children. Although you cannot simply remove digital screen time from your child's life, there are many other ways to help reduce the risk of digital eye strain. Encourage frequent breaks and visit your eye doctor for regular children's eye exams to ensure your child's vision and eye health are in tip-top shape. 

If you suspect that your child is suffering from digital eye strain or are concerned about their eye health from prolonged use of screen time, book a children’s eye exam with one of our experienced eye doctors at Market Mall Optometry. Our team understands just how important regular children’s eye exams are to ensure your child's vision develops correctly. Book an exam today by calling (403) 286-4884 or book online.


Q: When should my child first visit an optometrist?
A: The Canadian Association of Optometry recommends that children should have their first comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist at the age of 6 months, then at the age of 3, and then annually once they reach school age.

Q: Is a child’s eye exam painful or uncomfortable?
A: No, the child's eye exams are non-invasive and do not cause any discomfort or pain to your child. Your optometrist will make the experience as fun, and stress-free as possible to make your child comfortable and cooperative during the exam. 

Q: Can adults suffer from digital eye strain?
A: Yes, adults can suffer from digital eye strain. Adults are recommended to take the same precautions as children to help prevent digital eye strain.

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