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Parents concerned about eye strain with increased screen time during e-learning

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With virtual learning and the pandemic, there’s an increase in screen time for kids and that has some parents concerned about their children’s eyesight.

Eye strain is the biggest concern. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children said more parents are bringing their kids in to get their eyes checked.

At this point, experts said it’s just too early to know the full impact all this extra screen time is having on kids, however, eye doctors in Indianapolis are optimistic it won’t negatively impact children’s eyes in the long term.

“The normal visual system doesn’t get eye strain in children. In adults it’s different, but in children the normal visual system does not get eye strain,” said Dr. Kathryn Haider, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Riley Hospital for Children.

Although kids are less likely to get eye strain than adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours of screen time a day for children. This two-hour limit does not include e-learning, or emotionally-connected activity, such as FaceTime with family. Doctors said children with consistently more than two hours a day of screen time are more likely to have other issues, such as obesity.

When it comes to eye strain, doctors recommend kids and adults should take some simple steps to help, just to be safe.

  • Turn down the brightness on computers, iPads and phones
  • Hold devices away from the face
  • Invert device’s screen to be a black background with white letters
  • Don’t sit in an awkward or uncomfortable position during screen time
  • Take breaks and use the 20/20/20 rule

“[It’s] called the 20/20/20 rule. So after 20 minutes of doing any screen time, you take a 20 second break and you look away for about 20 feet,” said Dr. Haider.

Doctors said they start to see eye strain with age. So, it is likely to begin in people who are young adults and continue to increase through adulthood with the use of screens. Dr. Haider also does not recommend people use blue blocking glasses and instead said people should simply invest in a good pair of sunglasses for when they’re outside.

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