My daughter is constantly on some sort of digital device. She complains of her eyes feeling tired and gritty. We had her eyes checked and were told she has perfect vision. What can we do to make her eyes feel better? The gritty feeling she is describing is usually because of insufficient blinking while staring at these devices and is quite common. The eyes surface is getting dry. Over the counter moisturizing eye drops can be used to help alleviate the symptoms. Encourage taking frequent breaks from the device.

Last month we discussed the damaging effects of certain wavelengths of blue light which is emitted from these digital devices as well as LED light fixtures. The symptoms of digital eye strain can be broken down into three causes: 1)proximity of the light source to the eye, 2)intensity of light from the source, and 3)frequency and duration of exposure. 1. Since children have shorter arms, the proximity to their eyes is closer than for an adult. 2. Intensity of blue light emitted from a device held 8 inches away from the eyes is 4 times the light intensity at 16 inches. 3. By the age of 17, the average American child has spent over a third of their lives looking at digital devices.

Evidence of increasing frequency and duration of exposure to hand held digital devices is all around us; just observe tables of people in restaurants all looking at their smartphones. The art of conversation is lost to the pull of the digital screen. I have observed teenagers sitting in the same booth, texting each other rather than speaking! Obviously this also affects how kids learn to relate to each other socially and in groups.

An adult’s lens within the eye has some filtering ability brought on by discoloring as we age. The crystalline lens in children is crystal clear allowing more damaging rays to penetrate to the retina of the eye, again increasing the intensity. The shorter wavelengths of blue light emitted are out of focus, reducing contrast and the retina lacks processing power for it.

The first thing you can do to help your child’s eye fatigue is to monitor their usage and discourage overuse. Encourage activities that require changing focal distance frequently. When working at a computer for extended times, such as homework, follow the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and look at least 20 feet away. Use the “night” setting on electronic devices; although it doesn’t reduce the intensity of damaging blue light significantly, any little bit helps. Encourage outdoor activities.

As discussed in last month’s article, be sure these devices are turned off a couple of hours before bedtime to allow better quality, more restful sleep.

We have protective non-prescription eyewear available ready made in the office called Blutech. They are also available by order in prescriptions or as readers.


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Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

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