As we near the beginning of another school year, it’s important that an eye check is on the to-do list.
With children spending more time on screens than ever, there is potential to develop digital eye strain, something Optometrists are seeing much more often. Children are also more at risk of developing myopia or becoming short-sighted as their eyes are still developing.
Specsavers Optometrist Greeshma Patel says, “I generally recommend parents take their child for a routine eye test before they begin school and then every two years after that.
In between visits i recommend that parents of little ones look out signs and symptoms of changes in their eyesight.
“These include things like frequent eye rubbing, losing their place while reading, or using a finger to guide their eyes, sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing, complaining of headaches or tired eyes or even consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close”
Greeshma’s top tips for parents to help their kids avoid digital eye strain this school year:
- Remind your child to blink. This keeps the surface of your eyes from drying out.
- Keep a bottle of water on them at all times. Your eyes dry out when you’re dehydrated so making sure your child is drinking plenty of water throughout the day is important!
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means, every 20 minutes remind your child to shift their eyes to look at an object at least 20 metres away, for at least 20 seconds. The easiest way to do this is to take small ‘window’ breaks and look out at a faraway object to give their eyes a break from their screen.
- Spend time away from the screen. Make sure that during the school week, your children spend time playing outside or stepping away from the screen to do another activity. Staring at screens and being indoors for extended periods of time can increase the risk of myopia or becoming short-sighted. This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant objects appear blurred.
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