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

Sylvan Lake and area residents vent frustration over rural crime

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer visited Sylvan Lake Thursday as part of a rural crime tour

Sylvan Lake RCMP arrest man in Fox Run area hit and run

The arrest was made with the help of information provided by alert Sylvan Lakers

PHOTOS: Senior girls Aces beat the Blazers

The senior girls Eckville Aces met the Bowden Blazers in a Wednesday night game on Oct. 16

Lacombe County Council Highlights

County Council met for its regular meeting of council on Oct. 10

Pilot project proposed for Sylvan Lake and Rimbey RCMP

Chief Superintendent Shahin Mehdizadeh spoke about the project at Tuesday’s meeting of council

VIDEO: Alberta teen found guilty of shooting German tourist, leaving him paralyzed

The boy, who cannot be publicly identified, was from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Most Read