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Most children are exposed to screens wherever they go. Smartphones, video games, computers, and other touchscreen gadgets emit blue light. (Learn More)
Given how necessary technology is to education and everyday life, some parents may consider computer glasses the next time their child visits an eye doctor. (Learn More)
Studies are still inconclusive about whether or not computer glasses are actually necessary. (Learn More) Eye conditions among children have increased in recent years, and digital screen use may contribute to this.
Digital Eye Strain
Per Science Daily, ophthalmologists have seen an increase in the number of children with digital eye strain correlated with spending too much time in front of screens. Dry eye, blurry vision, headaches, and eye strain are the main symptoms of digital eye strain.
- Myopia, or nearsightedness, has increased to 42 percent of the world population since 1971.
- As many as 90 percent of adults and adolescents in Asia have myopia.
Scientists have yet to find the exact cause of this increase in myopia, but studies show that spending time outside can fight the progression of nearsightedness in children.
People who are over 40 may have difficulties working in front of a computer because they lose some of their ability to focus on screens for a long period of time. Those who are under 40 may also have problems with screens for reasons such as:
- Distance. For the least amount of digital eye strain, position your computer screen 20 to 26 inches from your eyes. Variations increase the likelihood of eye strain.
- Contact lenses. Though these correct vision issues, they become dry after a while, and this can contribute to eye strain
- Infrequent breaks. Doctors recommend the 20-20-20 rule when looking at a screen. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This also helps when reading a book. Many people don’t take breaks when working on the computer.
How Computer Glasses Work
Computer glasses provide magnification and should be tailored to your needs. Certain brands are now specializing in lenses that make it easier to look at your computer by using the same prescription throughout the lens, so you do not have to slouch or tip your head back to look at your computer.
- Computer glasses may magnify about 60 percent as much as reading glasses. Your doctor will prescribe the right magnification for your child depending on their individual circumstances.
- Studies on workers show that computer glasses may improve worker productivity in adults.
Adults who use bifocals or progressive (trifocal) glasses tend to benefit from computer glasses. Though children seldom need bifocals for farsightedness, there are rare circumstances when this is the right prescription for them.
Farsighted children (children who cannot properly see things near them) can benefit from computer glasses, so they won’t have to strain to see computer text.
Additional features may further protect children who have existing eye conditions that could worsen if they spend a lot of time in front of screens. These include:
- Anti-reflective coating. This diminishes blue light emitted by computers, tablets, phones, and other screens.
- Photochromic or transition lenses. These are prescription eyeglasses that become dark in sunlight to protect the eyes.
Do Children Need Extra Protection From Screens?
Research shows that blue light is not exactly the problem. Blue light that comes from the sun or that you experience during the day keeps you alert and decreases the secretion of a sleep hormone called melatonin.
Increased blue light exposure can keep children and adults awake longer and cause sleep issues.
Some children may benefit from computer glasses, so ask your child’s eye doctor if they are appropriate for your child. If your child already has a pair of prescription glasses, blue light-blocking lenses can further protect your child’s eyes.
As a parent, you can monitor your child’s screen time by ensuring they only use electronic devices for a given time, encouraging your child to play outside, and advising that they use dark mode or nighttime settings on devices to prevent eye strain.
Take these additional precautions:
- Ensure your child’s work area is properly set up.
- Get your child’s eyes checked annually.
- Have a soothing bedtime routine and stick to it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do computer glasses protect vision?
Computer glasses protect eyesight by magnifying things that are between 20 to 26 inches away. This is the distance most adults maintain between their eyes and computers.
Your eye doctor will take your child’s needs into consideration when prescribing computer glasses for them.
You can choose other options if your child already uses prescription glasses. Anti-reflective coating blocks blue light, and photochromic lenses become darker in the sunlight to better protect your child’s vision while they are outside.
Should children receive extra protection from blue light?
Yes, but monitoring their screen time works better than simply using computer glasses. It is true that children today are exposed to more technology than their predecessors. Children often use computers for schoolwork, and they watch TV or play video games regularly.
Have set routines for when your kids can use devices, and encourage them to play outside.
Blue light exposure is most harmful at night because data shows that it can influence sleep patterns. Reduce the use of digital devices at night, even if you buy computer glasses for your child.
Children and Technology: Protecting Your Child's Eyes. (June 2019). All About Vision.
Computer Glasses and Computer Vision Syndrome. (August 2019). Verywell Health.
Should Kids Wear Blue Light-Filtering Glasses? Here's What The Experts Have To Say. (July 2019). Romper.
Do Blue Light-Blocking Glasses Work? Read This Before You Buy. (May 2019). CNET.
Is Too Much Screen Time Harming My Children’s Vision? (August 2018). ScienceDaily.
The Basics of Farsightedness. (March 2019). Verywell Health.