Parents are being warned that too much screen time for children, at home or school, can lead to eye strain. Image credit: Pixabay

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. Ward ZoBell, an optometrist in Ponoka.

“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. ZoBell 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. ZoBell.

“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. ZoBell.

“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. ZoBell 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.

The survey was done online through the Angus Reid Forum panel and the research was facilitated by MARU/Matchbox. The survey results were collected between July 13 and 18 with 506 Albertans with children 18 years and younger. The estimated margin of error of the survey is plus or minus 4.4 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Just Posted

Rollovers near Ponoka keep crews busy

Wintry road conditions proved a struggle for motorists on the QE2 highway with several incidents

Plane crash-lands near Ponoka

The airplane had its tail ripped off and it ended right side up in a copse of trees east of Ponoka

Ponoka barrel racer looks to strong future

Shayna Weir’s climb to CFR promises more to come for the barrel racer

Naked man arrested for impaired driving

The man allegedly fled the scene of a collision wearing only a sheet. Plus other Ponoka RCMP briefs

Ponoka Legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Ponoka residents pack Legion hall during Remembrance Day

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Don’t sign USMCA until LGBTQ language excised, U.S. lawmakers urge Trump

The trade agreement, forged after 13 months of tense negotiations between Canada and the U.S. is scheduled for Nov. 30

US official: US intel says prince ordered Khashoggi killing

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters that ‘the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity.’

Castor, Forestburg, coal workers get $257,644 to transition to low-carbon economy

Two transition centres will serve seven communities in the Battler River Region

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

PHOTO: Ponoka Stampede new suites construction begins

The Ponoka Stampede Wild West Suites construction has begun

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read