Kids and Computers

Excessive computer use during lockdown.
Federico Bartolomei

Whole days spent in front of monitors, children spending long hours doing video lessons, then their homework and later sitting in front of a screen, whether it is the TV, a video game or a mobile phone for some well-deserved moments of leisure, given that playing outdoors had become off-limits. This intensive use of PCs and tablets, a situation to which we have become accustomed in this period of lockdown, can, however, lead to eye fatigue. In fact, it subjects us to a demanding workload, stressing in a prolonged way both the intraocular and extraocular muscles (internal and external to the eye). What can we do about this? First of all, we need to know that eye muscles are more solicited when what we are looking at is up close. We need to teach children to maintain a correct posture, which allows a viewing distance between eye and device of at least 50-70 cm. This position is easier to maintain when using a computer or a tablet with larger monitors; the smartphone, on the other hand, since it is being held in the hand and because of its smaller display, is generally brought closer to the eyes. To foster greater relaxation of eye muscles, it may be useful to take short breaks by focusing for a moment at a faraway object, perhaps through a window. 

Child after spending too many hours in front of the monitor

Avoid bright reflections! Lighting in the room needs to be homogeneous, thereby ensuring ideal lighting conditions without annoying glare effects from the monitor. Exercises can also be done to improve vision flexibility, some of which can be performed at home; when in doubt, it may be useful to consult an orthoptist for a needs assessment. Obviously if the ophthalmologist has prescribed glasses, they need to be tried on, making sure they are clean, to avoid the presence of smears on the lenses. When staring at the display screen, we may tend to blink less frequently than usual, which may lead to symptoms of dryness. If the symptoms are important, characterized by redness in the eyes, tearing, burning sensations or headaches, it is advisable to consult with your trusted ophthalmologist.

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