Tips From Your Eye Doctor for Remote E-learning
With the new “normal” of remote learning for the majority of our school age children, I wanted to share some very important tips to minimize the eyestrain that may occur with increased prolonged technology use. With most children and young adults spending up to 6 hours a day remote learning on digital devices and possibly more hours during free time, it is important to establish good ocular hygiene to minimize the long term effects that these devices have on the eyes.
Viewing a computer or digital screen is vastly different than reading a printed page. Often the letters on computers or handheld devices are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult.
Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of digital eye strain have to do with the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.
- Location of computer screen - Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes. If using an iPad, it is helpful to place it on multiple books to achieve optimal height.
- Reference materials - These materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents so you do not need to move your head to look from the document to the screen.
- Lighting - Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage.
- Anti-glare screens - If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
- Seating position - Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so your feet rest flat on the floor. If your chair has arms, they should be adjusted to provide arm support while you are typing. Your wrists should not rest on the keyboard when typing.
- Rest breaks - To prevent eyestrain, try to rest your eyes when using the computer for long periods. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus.
- Blinking - To minimize your chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, make an effort to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of your eye moist.
- To help alleviate digital eye strain, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
LED screens used for computers and other digital devices emit a broad spectrum of light, of which a small portion is a high-energy visible light called “blue light.” Studies have shown that over time, certain bands of blue light may be harmful to the light-sensitive retina of the eye. However, there are ways to protect the eyes from blue light by using specific screen protectors.
For more information on the impact of excessive screen time on your child’s eye health, please click here.