Back-to-school device advice

AOA's Back-to-School campaign is preparing optometrists to spread the word about why children need comprehensive eye exams. These exams are more important than ever as students spend more and more time staring at screens each day.

These exams are more important than ever as students spend more and more time staring at screens each day.

According to the AOA's 2013 American Eye-Q® survey, 85 percent of parents indicate their children use an electronic device up to four hours per day. In addition, 41 percent of children have their own smartphone or tablet, and 32 percent use both e-books and textbooks at school.

This may present vision challenges such as computer vision syndrome. So the AOA created the following infographic to help optometrists educate parents on safe use and signs of eye health issues.

For example, the AOA urges students to rest their eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule. When using technology, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. In addition, the AOA offers the following tips by grade level:

Preschool and Kindergarten: At home, little ones may play games on a tablet or smartphone, while at school they learn early lessons about how to use a computer. The AOA suggests limiting tech time to two hours or less each day and increasing the font size to make it easier on eyes. During this stage, parents should be aware of physical signs of a potential vision problem. 

Elementary School: At this age, children continue to use smartphones, play with portable gaming devices, and spend hours on computers at school and home. Encourage kids to use cell phones only for quick tasks such as texting, and to position all devices half an arm's length away from the eyes and slightly below eye level. Children should also take frequent breaks and move around or change positions often while working on a computer. 

Middle and High School: With computers becoming a staple at school and for homework, along with increased smartphone usage, remind middle and high schoolers to position computers 20 to 28 inches away from their eyes, and to keep the top of the screen at eye level. When at home, kids should use ergonomic desk areas or gaming chairs. To prevent glare on screens, use low-wattage light bulbs or drapes in the room. And adjust brightness or background color settings on digital devices to keep vision comfortable. 

August 9, 2013

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