Digital eye strain a growing concern as children head back to school

Digital eye strain a growing concern as children head back to school

New survey reveals Alberta parents could be doing more to protect their children

In addition to paper, pencils and binders, many back to school lists are starting to include laptops, tablets and other electronics. As children spend more time on digital devices at home and in the classroom, Alberta optometrists are encouraging parents to help protect their children from the effects of digital eye strain.

“We are seeing more children who are experiencing digital eye strain after using electronics for more than two hours at a time,” said Dr. Trent Allred, an optometrist in Sylvan Lake. “It’s caused by a number of factors, including staring at close-up objects for too long, a lack of blinking and exposure to blue light that’s emitted by electronics.”

The Alberta Association of Optometrists recently commissioned a survey to better understand children’s digital habits. According to the surveyed parents, Alberta elementary school age children spend an average of more than four hours a day using digital devices, while Alberta teenagers spend nearly eight hours a day using electronics.

While only 28 per cent of parents say their child experiences symptoms during or after using digital devices, Dr. Allred points out that those symptoms can be difficult to detect.

“Sometimes children complain of things like headaches, blurred vision and eye irritation after using electronics,” said Dr. Allred. “But many children don’t understand what they’re feeling, and end up with behavioural symptoms like irritability, poor behaviour and reduced attention spans, making it harder to pinpoint what’s causing the problem.”

Since 80 per cent of learning is visual, these symptoms have the potential to affect a child’s performance in school. Unfortunately, the survey revealed that 59 per cent of Alberta parents are not aware of or do not encourage their children to take steps during or after using digital devices to reduce the impact on their eyes. These steps include taking regular breaks, following the 20-20-20 rule by looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds, not holding screens too closely, reducing overhead lighting and screen brightness and adjusting the positioning of their computers.

“The best way to prevent, treat and detect digital eye strain is through a comprehensive eye exam,” said Dr. Allred. “We can recommend customized solutions, based on a child’s digital habits, which may include computer glasses or simple day-to-day lifestyle adjustments.”

Dr. Allred says back to school season is a great time for parents to take their children for eye exams to ensure they have healthy eyes and clear vision before they get back in the classroom. The Alberta Association of Optometrists recommends that children have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and yearly after starting school. Infants should have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age. Alberta Health covers the cost of annual eye exams for children up to age 19.

For more information, visit www.optometrists.ab.ca.

Just Posted

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

(Photo Courtesy of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools will not pilot draft curriculum

RDCRS is one of many divisions in the area to opt out of the pilot of the K-6 draft curriculum

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Trudeau is rejecting accusations from Alberta’s justice minister that his federal government is part of a trio rooting for that province’s health system to collapse due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

More than two million Canadians have received AstraZeneca and 17 have been confirmed to have VITT

Most Read