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Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

February 4, 2010 - Rodney Smith
A few weeks ago I wrote about Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and the problems it can cause. Since then, a few readers have asked me if CVS can affect children. And the answer is yes. Definitely yes.

Ninety percent of school-age children have access to a computer at home and/or in school. That means that there are 54 million children in the U.S. using a computer on a regular basis. And the Berkeley School of Optometry found that between 25 and 30 percent of these kids need glasses to comfortably work on a computer.

And it really should come as no surprise that children can be affected by excess computer use the same as adults can be.

Remember, words on a computer screen are created by pixels- tiny points of light. And these pixels are brightest in the middle but diminish in intensity toward their edge. That means that words on a computer screen are much different than words on paper. As a consequence, it is much harder to maintain focus.

And this problem maintaining focus can cause those children who use a computer to have eye strain and fatigue.

It is unfortunate that a computer- something extremely useful for education- can cause eyestrain. However, there are some suggestions on how to lessen this strain:

1) This first one cannot be emphasize enough: School-aged children need to have their eyes checked annually. This applies to all children, not just those who wear glasses or have visual complaints. We don't always suspect our children have health problems, but we take them to the pediatrician for routine exams. Similarly, we don't always think our children have dental problems, but we generally take them to the dentist twice a year. We do this so the pediatrician and the dentist can be sure there is nothing wrong. And, if something is wrong, get it diagnosed right away so it can be treated right away. This apples to the eye doctor as well. Get your child to the eye doctor annually to ensure your child has the best possible vision to perform optimally in school.

2) Make sure you child's computer is set up to suit his size, and not the size of an adult. This means the monitor should be 18-28 inches away from the child's eyes. Much closer than this increases the risk of eyestrain.

3) Encourage your child to take breaks from the computer.

Computer Vision Syndrome is a very real problem for adults as well as children. Stay on top of this problem with routine eye exams for yourself and for your children.


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