Computer Vision Syndrome: Are Your Children At Risk?
Up until now, many health care professionals have concerned themselves with caring for adults suffering from computer vision syndrome. Computer vision syndrome or CVS often results when a person spends too many hours working on a computer or straining to see while working on a computer.
Now, according to the American Optometric Association or AOA, children are at risk just as much as adults are, for computer vision syndrome and other problems associated with long-term computer use.
Too Much Exposure = Poor Vision
Many optometrists and ophthalmologists are diagnosing young children with CVS, and prescribing appropriate treatments. Why are children at risk? Recent surveys reveal that many children spend several hours each day using computers either in the classroom, at home, or while using electronic games or other devices, which place as much strain on the eye as do computers.
Sedentary children may also suffer from a host of other problems including being overweight. Many doctors express their concern over the lack of "play time" or actual time spent outdoors engaging children in challenging and fun games. Just as adults need exercise, so too do our children.
What You Can Do To Help
To help your child preserve their eyes, you must become an advocate for your child's health. That may mean talking with teachers or educational facilities to ensure that ergonomic stations are readily available for their children, and to ensure the lighting in rooms where children use computers is up to par.
Children should also use computers on a limited basis in the home. If your child is a video game junkie, and you don't have a problem with letting them play, offer your child alternatives to nonstop gaming, which could result in poor vision.
You may for example, limit the time your child spends watching television and playing games; or, you could allow them to do one or the other for a set number of minutes (hours) each day. Alternately you might consider forbidding the use of video games, computers or other electronic devices certain days of the week, so your child isn't straining their eyes every day.
Having a computer in a well lit location where you can keep an eye on your child's activity may also help. As a parent, you should also play with your children. Children look to their parents for guidance and direction, especially young children. So, if you are active and spend much of your time engaged in outdoor activities or healthy activities, your child is more likely to adopt your healthy habits.
Visits To The Optometrist Or Ophthalmologist
It is also important you remember to have your child's vision checked annually or more often if your child has a vision problem. Your optometrist, ophthalmologist or optician can work with your child and teach them ways they can avoid eye strain. These may include using artificial tear drops to prevent dry eyes and focusing on distant and near objects once for five minutes every hour on the hour to ensure your child's vision is intact.
You can also encourage your child to take frequent breaks from the computer and close their eyes, so their eyes have time to recuperate. If you have concerns about computer time at school, make sure you express those concerns. Children that use computers at school should not necessarily have to use computers to do homework. If your child has a vision problem, let their teacher or educational facility know, and ask them to modify assignments so your child doesn't have to stare at the computer at school and at home. This should help relieve some of the strain your child experiences when working on the computer or using other electronic devices.
If your child gives you a hard time about changing their habits, act as a parent. Sit down, talk with your child and express your concerns. Let your child know what kinds of damage can occur by staring at a screen for too long, then work with your child to develop a schedule of electronic or computer use that is agreeable to both of you. That way your child won't resent any changes you make in their lifestyle, and you can rest easy knowing your child isn't spending too much time engaged in activities that can harm his or her health.
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