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Watching out for your kid’s eyes during remote learning

No special glasses required

Watching out for your kid’s eyes during remote learning

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic caused shutdowns worldwide, necessitating even more use of computers for everything from communication to education, most parents – including me – were worried about their children’s eyesight. (And their own.) Surely focusing on lit screens hours a day, for days in a row, would cause some irreparable damage. While that appears to be so, several doctors, interviewed for the New York Times, say it needn’t be, and preventing it isn’t that difficult.

If you’re noticing warning signs of eye strain in your child, like headaches, excessive blinking, dry eyes, rubbing of the eyes, and/or tiredness and crankiness, be advised:

For starters, according to Dr. Luke Deitz, a Los Angeles-based pediatric ophthalmologist, keep the digital device at least two feet away. Whereas people in general once read at a distance of sixteen inches away from the eyes, researchers are finding, particularly with phones, we’re reading at ten to twelve inches away. At this distance, the eyes turn in to focus on the screen, which can lead to fatigue of the eye muscles, causing headaches, fatigue, or other vision problems.

READ MORE: Find an optometrist or ophthalmologist near you

Dr. Millicent Knight, an optometrist and spokesperson for the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition, suggests placing an elbow on the table and then resting one’s head in that hand. According to the article, “From this position, they should lift their elbow and touch the screen; that is now the closest working distance they should be from their device.”

Then there’s the 20/20/20 Rule: Every twenty minutes you should look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds. This rests the eyes. Dr. Dietz advises breaks over blue-light-blocking glasses, very popular, skillfully marketed items, which, according to Dietz, are not proven to actually help. Sunglasses with UV protection to wear outdoors, however, are recommended.

Other tips: turn down screen brightness, set up screens perpendicular to windows, and set up vision screenings for your child.

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