Kids, Eyes and Digital Strain

Eyes Digital Strain

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

My poor children. When it comes to their gene pool they are destined to swim through it with four eyes. Both their mama and their dada have some bad eyes. Thankfully mine was corrected long ago with some Lasik, but without that I couldn’t see a thing. And even before I had poor distance vision I battled somewhat of a lazy eye. So.

It did not surprise us in the least when in 3rd grade Lily started to complain about not seeing the board, but honestly I kind of blew her off for awhile not realizing how bad it was. Now by the end of each school year she is starting to complain again despite new glasses the year before. As she grows her eyes are still changing a lot and her vision drastically changes year to year. Her eyes are now worse than Ryan’s.

Hannah recently started to say her eyes were straining to see and sure enough, at her back to school physical yesterday the doctor measured her vision at 20/40. Off to the eye doctor she goes (and while I was at it, I scheduled all the kids for cleanings at the dentist too).

Recently I read how much our children’s time on electronics is affecting their vision. The American Optometric Association did a survey on digital eye strain with kids and this is what they learned:

  • 83% of kids between 10 and 17 estimate that they are on electronic devices for three or more hours a day.
  • Only 40% of parents believe their children use electronic devices for three of more hours a day. Most parents drastically underestimate their kid’s digital usage.
  • 80% of kids report burning, itchy or tired eyes after their electronic device use (suddenly my eyes are burning, itchy and tired…..)

eye strain

These symptoms, along with headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision and head/ neck pain, are classic symptoms of digital eye strain. It is also believed that our children’s constant exposure to computers, tablets and phones is contributing to increased myopia (I’m blaming genetics to ease my mommy guilt).

We need to teach our kids to give their eyes a break!

digital eye strain

A few other easy tips to remember:

  • Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
  • Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
  • Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
  • Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
  • Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

These are clearly good tips for kids or adults.

I also recently learned that the American Optometric Association recommends that kids start having yearly eye exams starting at age three. I have totally dropped the ball here. Don’t fret, children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye exams thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act,through age 18.

Eye health is so important as it has been shown time and time again how vision impacts learning in the classroom. Glasses are now a part of our every day life and I have to admit, although they took some getting used to, now I can’t imagine Lily without glasses on her face. Just like all issues with my kid’s health, it is something I have to keep on top of and back to school seems like a perfect time to get everything in order for the upcoming year.

Have you scheduled your kid’s for an eye appointment lately?

For more info check out the American Optometric Association on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. These seem like great tips to keep in mind when it comes to taking care of your child’s eye health. It seems like one of the best ways to protect your child’s eyes at homes is to control how they look at screens. I know that my son like to have laptops and tablets placed very close to his face. The article explained that the safe level a screen should be held to a person’s face is four to five inches below eye level and twenty to twenty eight inches away from the eyes, so I should remember that to know exactly how far my son’s eyes should be to his computer and tablet screens.

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