Your eyes are constantly exposed to the screens of devices, whether you are connecting with mummy groups on social media or helping with your little one’s school presentation. Naturally, this could lead to digital eye strain, in both adults and children.
While we wish we could just get rid of these devices altogether, at the same time, we know it’s impossible. So, how do we look after our own eyes and those of our kids, without ditching our screens?
Digital eye strain: What do you need to know
Looking at the tiny screens of your smartphones or tablets can lead to multiple eyesight issues. Some symptoms of eye strain are:
● Blurred vision
● Sore eyes
● Pain or strain in the neck, shoulders, and back
● Dry eyes
71% in optometric practice reported an increase in patient reporting issues related to screen time2. In a minute, you normally blink around 15 times. But when you are staring at a smartphone or any screen, the rate of your eyes blinking reduces by half3,4.
Keep your child away from excessive screen time. | Image source: file photo
You may also suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome, wherein, your facial, neck and shoulder muscles tighten because you squint to read these screens. As a result, your eyes are fatigued. And this leads to blurred or strained vision.
Other problems caused by the constant use of devices
There are other issues these devices can cause, such as impacting your balance and stability. This leads to dizziness.
Bedtime use of these devices can affect sleep patterns and reduce melatonin levels, no thanks to the blue light that screens emit.
The 20-20-20 rule can help in preventing digital eye strain
So, what’s this much-talked-about, 20-20-20 rule?
Instead of giving up on smartphones or devices, you can make a small change in the way you use them.
Every 20 minutes, take a break and look away from your device. Make sure that you are looking at a distance of 20 feet for at least 20 seconds.
Simple, right? But despite its simplicity, this method can be a great help in maintaining the health of your eyes. It will give your eyes much-needed rest, preventing fatigue and strain. As a result, many vision problems by devices, such as headaches, soreness, and blurriness, can be avoided.
The 20-20-20 rule is especially important with kids. As parents, you can set key rules to help your kids understand self-control and why they should use electronic devices in moderation.
Here are some more tips to minimise digital eye strain:
- Increase outdoor time: Studies¹ have shown that children who spend more time outdoors (playing, participating in sports activities, etc) have a lowered risk of childhood myopia.
- Hold reading and writing materials at least 30cm away from your eyes. Avoid reading materials with small or faded prints – it requires more effort to focus on the words, resulting in eye strain.
- It is best to sit upright when reading, rather than lying down or slouching.
- Place your TV at least 2 metres away (approximately 3 steps away) from the couch for a comfortable viewing experience.
- Computer screens should be 50 cm away from the eyes. Do adjust the lighting of your monitor to minimise glare.
- Make sure that you have good lighting when doing “near work” like reading, watching TV and playing computer/handheld games.
- Regular eye exams are also important to detect any vision problems early.
In Singapore, 65 percent of children are myopic5 by Primary 6, and 83 percent of young adults are myopic. It is important to develop good eye care habits from young to protect eye health and prevent deterioration of eyesight.
If your child is myopic, apart from good eye care habits, you can combat the development and progression of myopia through:
Orthokeratology (“Ortho-K”) lenses
Children can wear these lenses while they sleep and won’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day. This is because, when worn overnight, Ortho-K lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, allowing kids to see clearly the next day. This is a great option for school children as they can see clearly for school, sports, swimming, and other activities without the inconvenience of glasses.
Myopia control soft contact lenses
Children also have another option to wear myopia control soft contact lenses to correct their vision and control myopia progression at the same time. These lenses are designed specifically to fit the children’s eyes to provide comfort and efficacy so that they may continue to have an active lifestyle.
Myopia control spectacle lenses
These spectacles look like normal glasses but work to control myopia progression.
This article is presented by ACUVUE® Abiliti™ Overnight Therapeutic Lenses. If you are concerned about your child’s vision, head over to https://www.seeyourabiliti.com/sg/ to do a risk assessment now.
You can also book an eye health check-up with an ACUVUE Abiliti™authorised eye care practitioner, and find out more about how ACUVUE® Abiliti™ Overnight Therapeutic Lenses control the progression of myopia in children.
¹ Cao, K., Wan, Y., Yusufu, M., & Wang, N. (2020). Significance of Outdoor Time for Myopia Prevention: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Based on Randomized Controlled Trials. Ophthalmic Research, 63(2), 97–105. https://doi.org/10.1159/000501937
2Jobson Optical Research, January 2021 n=503 ECPs
3 Tsubota K, Nakamori K. Dry eyes and video display terminals. N Engl J Med. 1993;328(8):584. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199302253280817
4 Patel S, Henderson R, Bradley L, et al. Effect of visual display unit use on blink rate and tear stability. Optom Vis Sci. 1991;68(11);888-892. doi::10.1097/00006324-199111000-00010.
5 Karuppiah, V., Wong, L., Tay, V., Ge, X., & Kang, L. L. (2021). School-based programme to address childhood myopia in Singapore. Singapore Medical Journal, 62(2), 63–68. https://doi.org/10.11622/SMEDJ.2019144