All About Kids
The Best Eye Care Tips For Your Family
Everything you need to know about caring for your family’s eyes
Our kids have now spent several months doing online learning. That also means that their exposure to computer screens have been more frequent than in past years. Raise your hand if your child has multiple gadgets — laptops, TV screens and monitors for games, cellphones, tablets and more. Now imagine how strained their eyes must be.
Over the last six months, more and more parents are getting corrective and preventive eyeglasses for their kids because of the current online learning setup.
How screens affect our eyes
According to optometrist, Dr. Vina Grace Lonzame, from Vision Express Philippines. “Excessive and prolonged exposure to screens can cause eye problems. This is called Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS. Symptoms include: headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
Dry eyes should not be ignored because this is a direct result of constant exposure to the glare of a digital screen, poor lighting, putting the screen too close to your eyes, or all of the above. Aside from our eye strain, long periods of computer usage can cause muscle and joint pain, overuse injuries of the shoulder, arm, wrist or hand.”
Eye care tips
The good news is there are things we can consider, adjust and apply as early as now when it comes to caring for our kids eyes while they are on their computers and gadgets. Here are some tips shared with us by Doc Vina:
- Make sure your main source of light (such as a window) is not shining into your face or directly onto the computer screen.
- Tilt the screen slightly to avoid reflection or glare straight into your eyes.
- Make sure the screen is not too close to your face. A good measure is to extend your arm forward and your screen should be as far away as your hand from your face.
- Put the screen either at eye level or slightly lower. Positioning it too high adds to the eye strain
- Reduce the contrast and brightness of your screen by adjusting the display controls.
- Frequently look away from the screen and focus on faraway objects. Apply the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and focus on an something that is 20 feet away
- Have regular eye examinations to check that any blurring, headaches and other associated problems are not caused by any underlying disorders. Ideally, one should visit an eye doctor twice a year. For people wearing prescription glasses, it should be more often.
What is myopia?
In 2010, over 2.7 billion people worldwide suffered from nearsightedness or myopia. It is a common vision condition in which you can see objects close your eyes, but objects farther away are blurry. Myopia is a refractive error that can be corrected.
Myopia affects 20 percent of children. It is usually not present at birth, but begins to develop as your child gets older, depending on his or her environment and eye care practices.
Because common myopia is a complex condition involving hundreds of genes, the condition does not have a clear pattern of inheritance. The risk of developing this condition is greater for first-degree relatives of affected individuals (such as siblings or children) as compared to the general public. Several studies suggest that spending time outdoors, especially in early childhood, can slow the progression of nearsightedness
The importance of eye exams
The dentist is not the only healthcare professional we should all be paying twice-a-year visits to. We also should get in the habit of visiting an optometrist or eye doctor just as frequently, more for people wearing prescription eyewear.
According to Doc Vina, if your child exhibits several or all of these symptoms, please visit an eye doctor immediately:
- Poor school performance
- Not wanting to go to school
- Difficulty paying attention
- Difficulty when reading and writing
- Trouble seeing information on the chalkboard (in today’s setup, the presentations on the screen)
- Blurry or double vision
- Headaches or eye pain
- Taking longer than normal to complete school tasks (homework, readings, projects, etc)
You know your children best, so please trust your guts if you feel like something is not right. I always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other eye care tips
Aside from screen-related ways to care for our family’s eyes, Doc Vina also gave us some practical eye care advice with regards to our lifestyle.
- Provide nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables and nuts. These foods contain key antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin, E, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein, which are all linked to eye health. Seafoods rich in omega-3 include salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, catfish, or pollock. Young children should avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
- Provide your child with age-appropriate toys that are free from sharp edges. Instead give them toys that encourage visual development.
- For babies, watch out for signs that the eyes are crossed or turned out. Look out for haziness or clouding in the pupil as well.
- Aside from sunblock for your skin, it is just as important to provide sun protection when outdoors by means of shelter or UV coated lenses, especially if your child’s eyes are light in color.
- Wear protective eyewear if you engage in sports that put your eyes or your vision at risk.
- And again — have your child’s eyes examined regularly, particularly during infancy and childhood.
Aside from our computer screens, TVs and gadgets, blue light is everywhere
- It is the main source of sunlight. Gasp!
- Exposure to blue light is particularly highest outdoors during daylight.
- It is produced by LED and fluorescent lights, and compact fluorescent light bulbs.
However, Doc Vina adds, “Some degree of blue light exposure is necessary for our overall well being. It regulates the circadian rhythm (the sleep/wake cycle linked with one’s internal body clock), aids memory and cognitive function, boosts alertness, and can improve your mood. However, overexposure may pose some eye-related health risks. Ideally, children should stop using devices 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Blue light may disrupt sleep. Have them switch to night mode or a similar mode to reduce blue light exposure.
While having the blue tint on eyeglasses or contacts enhances the contours around objects and improves color perception, it also can have a calming effect on the eyes. Wearing blue lenses greatly reduces glare when we are on our screens, during snowy conditions, while enjoying water sports, or enjoying sunny leisure activities. It minimises eye strain and fatigue.”
But wait, there’s more
If you have any serious eye concerns for your kids or any of your family members, or if you want to talk to an optometrist, Vision Express Philippines has 60+ branches all over the country. You can visit any of these branches anytime for a FREE EYE EXAM! You read that right, eye exams in Vision Express Philippines are free, and they use state of the art technology. Why? Because their mission is to give all Filipinos the gift of vision. For more information, please check out — (Vision Express website, IG and FB.)
And if you want to learn more about eye care from expert optometrist, Dr. Vina Grace Lonzame, you may watch her on Modern Parenting’s Facebook Live show, Real Talk.