Kids And Vision Care
Covid-19, the global pandemic has brought on a new world and a new way of life ‘New Normal’. This new normal is difficult for most adults and even more for kids as it can be confusing for them, why thing are currently the way they are.
While most of the world’s businesses are resuming, there is still a large percentage of people, whose only work involves studying at home and getting by the new normal i.e increased screen time. And kids are amongst those who have been told to stay at home and continue schooling from home.
With the wave of online education replacing traditional methods, children are now exposed to a complete array of different forms of technologies. While it’s a positive thing that we are able to provide children with continuous education, the impact of the screens on their eyes cannot be neglected.
There are multiple ways in which this increased time can affect children’s vision:
- Continuous Screen Exposure
This leads to constant exposure to the harmful blue light emitted from the screens and is one of the most obvious issues.
- Headaches or Asthenopia
This could occur due to continuous viewing at a fixed near distance which causes the muscle to be locked in that position for a long time.
- Reduced Blinking
As children keep on continuously staring at the screen, the blinking rate is reduce, which may cause increased redness and dryness of the eyes.
- Dark Rooms Effect On Retina
Constant and prolonged screen usage affects the retina especially in a dark room. In the dark, pupils dilate and hence more rays of light enters the eye and negatively impacts the retina
- Reduced Physical Activity
Reduced physical activity hampers the overall growth of a child’s body.
While we may not be able to prevent the current situation, small steps can be taken as a countermeasure to ensure the wellbeing of the children’s optical health.
Adopt The 20-20-20 Rule
Encourage kids to look away from the screen for at least 20 seconds and focus at a distance of 20 feet every 20 minutes.
Blue Light Protective Lenses
Ensure kids are wearing certified blue light protection lenses while using digital devices.
Well Lit Environment
Ensure that you provide the child a well-lit environment while using screens.
Play And Study Timetable
An effective ‘Play and Study Timetable’ can help where there is an organised routine for screen time studies along with physical play activities. Space out online learning and try to shorten the time slots.
Encourage children to consciously blink every few seconds as this will help dryness of the eyes.
Level of Computer Screen
The computer screen must be placed slightly lower than eye-level, in 20-28 inches away in such a way that there is no staring on the neck or back.
Brightness And Contrast Of Screen
Reduce the brightness and colour contrast on the screen to avoid unnecessary glare. Appropriate filters can be used for the same.
Replace Damaged Eyewear
Children tend to drop their glasses often and the glasses end up getting scratched. Ensuring that glasses are checked and replaced in case of such scratches will ensure clearer vision.
Professional Eye Examination
Providing your child spectacles and lenses is not the point but rather it’s to ensure that the examination is done properly and then based on accurate measurements, the right spectacle and lenses are provided to the child. A qualified optometrist will ensure that the glasses are fitted correctly in an appropriate frame according to the eyes and face of the child. Ill-fitting glasses and unnecessarily heavy glasses add to a wide range of additional problems.
Regular Monitoring Of Vision
The child’s eyes must be tested by a qualified optometrist every 6 months.
Overall empathy from parents, teachers and other healthcare providers goes a long way to build and maintain a healthy mental, physical, physiological and social all-round development of the child.
During this pandemic situation there is now more of a chance to deviate from routine set-timetable, the ‘new normal’ can be considered an opportunity for children to develop new skills, learn a new language, learn a new musical instrument or even set-up a new family routine.
While a whole new set of challenges are upon us in the ‘Digital New Era’ we can consciously promote and provide efficient Ocular health and face all these challenges head on for the betterment of our children and their future.
(B. Optom), Optometrist and Owner at Classic Vision, Mumbai