If you cross your eyes for too long, they will not get stuck that way and staring at screens will not make you blind, but it may have a very adverse effect. A recent study from the Journal of Experimental Eye Research showed that children under the age of 23 are developing myopia or near-sightedness more than any other time in history. Because children are spending much more time on their couches in front of screens, they are decreasing their exposure to sunlight. Without the extra dopamine production encouraged by the sun, young eyes can begin to elongate. When I think of elongated eyes, I think of those novelty glasses with the slinky eyeballs you can buy at the party store. The actual definition of an elongated eye from the National Eye Institute, states that “myopia occurs when the eye grows too long from front to back”.
When children are playing outside, their eyes have to focus on far away objects, which also decreases their chances of being near sighted. As a part time fitness instructor, I know that if I do a very heavy leg day at the gym, I need to rest the next day and do an upper body workout. It is quite eye opening to note that our eyes are muscles that need to be worked equally between focusing on objects that are near and far away.
Eye Boot Camp
If you or your kids are spending too much time focusing up close, you may need to enlist in a little Eye Bootcamp! Here’s how:
- Set a timer for 20-minute intervals, during the duration of your screen time.
- Every 20 minutes, stand up, stretch, do a squat or two, and get a drink of water. Not only is this healthy for your entire body, but your eyes will be focusing on objects in the distance. Be sure you are looking away from your screen and focusing on a distant object for at least 20 seconds, before going back to your screen.
If you are having more serious eye issues like lazy eye or eyes that aren’t tracking properly, you may need to go to an actual eye boot camp for eye therapy. Elite athletes undergo eye therapy all the time to strengthen their hand eye coordination so they can keep their eye on that little white baseball or neon green tennis ball.
Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS
Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS affects up to 60 to 90 percent of all adults. While adults are not at risk for permanent eye damage, they can experience eye strain, or CVS. I am almost finished with a 140, 000 word textbook about re-focusing your parenting lens to see the strengths in your child that are often hidden from view when two personalities are different from one another. Maybe you are a hot air balloon, but your child is an eighteen-wheeler? I happen to be an eighteen-wheeler that forges ahead, without taking breaks, so I was beginning to wonder if I was going blind from hundreds of hours spent in front of a screen. I was relieved to find out that it was simply CVS and that there were several things I could do to decrease my symptoms.
Symptoms of CVS
- Dry, tired eyes.
- Blurred vision or double vision.
- Red, burning eyes.
- Headaches or shoulder fatigue.
How to Decrease Symptoms
- Ensure your computer screen is an arm’s length from your face.
- Be sure your screen is directly in front of you.
- Your gaze should be looking down at your screen rather than up or directly at it.
- Make a visor with your hands to see if cutting down on glare relieves your strain. You may need to pull shades or reposition a light source.
- Cut down on screen glare by adjusting the settings on your computer or wearing a stylish pair of screen glasses.
- Make sure you aren’t directly next to a heater or air vent which can dry out your eyes.
- Keep eye drops near your computer to ease dry eyes.
- Take 20-minute breaks to change your focus.
And if you need to re-focus your parenting lens, keep your eyes peeled for Guiding Your Kid’s Drive: Parenting Thru the Insights of Personality Type at wendygossett.com