Unfortunately because of COVID-19, we're seeing a lot of our kids spend an enormous amount of time in front of a computer.
This has bad consequences not just for adults that have eye fatigue and strain, but especially in younger children who are still developing their vision. Our visual system needs to be actively involved in using all our space. Not just our close distances like reading and computers, but also moving outside in an infinite space setting like a playground.
Our visual system uses being outdoors to kind of recalibrate, and have good functional focusing ability. Studies show that children who are indoors a lot like in China tend to have higher degrees of myopia or nearsightedness.
The ability to be outside, to play, and have sports is very important for the visual system.
Here are a couple of things we can recommend for your child or young adult that might be spending a lot of time in front of the screen.
First of all, I would suggest the 20-20-20 rule.
Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen, hopefully, 20 feet or more.
Looking outside a window is ideal. Relax your eyes for about 20 seconds. This will be a visual break. If your teacher doesn't like it, tell them your eye doctor is recommending this. You can still listen to what your teacher is saying, however, you should relax your focus periodically.
Also, make sure that when you are reading or writing that you are no closer than the Harmon distance. The Harmon distance is between knuckle and elbow. If you see your child getting closer and closer to their work, check their Harmon distance and move them back. This is very effective when dealing with younger children. I did this with my daughter when she was 4, and she would check her Harmon distance by putting her elbow on the desk and backing her head up to her knuckles. If you see the children are still doing this a lot, have them checked by a developmental optometrist because, very often, a low plus lens can help the child relax their focus.
You can also make sure that if your child is experiencing eye pain, strain, discomfort, double vision or blur, that you get them in to see their developmental optometrist. We can prescribe glasses for their best comfort at near. We want to preserve our vision & our children's vision & keep our nation strong despite this pandemic.
Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our New York eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.
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My child had a vision exam at my Paediatrician, why do I need to come to the eye doctor?
Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. However, they can't be relied on to provide the same results as a comprehensive eye and vision examination. Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children or adults who may have undetected vision problems and refer them for further evaluation. Screenings can take many forms. Often schools provide periodic vision screenings for their students. A pediatrician or other primary care physician may do a vision screening as part of a school physical. When applying for a driver's license, chances are your vision will be screened. Many times vision screenings are part of local health fairs put on by hospitals, social service agencies or fraternal groups like the Lions and Elks Clubs. While vision screenings can uncover some individuals with vision problems, they can miss more than they find. This is a major concern about vision screening programs. Current vision screening methods cannot be relied upon to effectively identify individuals in need of vision care. In some cases, vision screening may actually serve as an unnecessary barrier to an early diagnosis of vision problems. They can create a false sense of security for those individuals who "pass" the screening, but who actually have a vision problem, thereby delaying further examination and treatment. Undetected and untreated vision problems can interfere with a child's ability to learn in school and participation in sports or with an adult's ability to do their job or to drive safely. The earlier a vision problem is diagnosed and treated, the less it will impact an individual's quality of life.
I have heard about blue light being a concern as well. Can you talk a little bit about this and what it means for protecting your eyes?
Recently, the optical community has found that blue light can also cause long-term damage to the eye. It has been found that overexposure to blue light over time can lead to macular degeneration. To help protect our eyes from these rays, a new coating has been found to block out this blue light. Anti-reflective or anti-glare coating could be a term that is familiar to you. Labs have found a way for these features to block the blue rays coming from our handheld devices, computers, and fluorescent bulbs. This coating has several benefits and protecting our eyes from these harmful rays is one of them.
What causes myopia?
Myopia is caused by a combination of heredity and environmental factors. Studies show that if we can move the focal point in front of the mid-peripheral retina we can slow the progression of myopia. The increased use of cell phones and computers, as well as less time outdoors, is probably a contributing factor.
Do I need an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?
Both are eye doctors that diagnose and treat many of the same eye conditions. The American Optometric Association defines Doctors of Optometry as: primary health care professionals who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They prescribe glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy and medications as well as perform certain surgical procedures. The main difference between the two, is that ophthalmologists perform surgery, where an optometrist would not, preferring to specialize in eye examinations, as well as eyeglass and contact lens-related services. Optometrists would be involved in all of the pre-and post-operative care of these surgical patients; collecting accurate data, educating the patient, and insuring proper healing after the procedure. An ophthalmologist is more of a medical-related specialist, who would need only to be involved if some kind of surgery were being considered. An optometrist can treat most any eye conditions, including the use of topical or oral medications if needed. This might include the treatment of glaucoma, eye infections, allergic eye conditions, dry eyes and others, to name just a few. A third “O” that often is overlooked is the optician. An optician is not a doctor, and they cannot examine your eye under their own license. However, a highly trained optician plays an indispensable role in the most successful eye doctor’s offices. An optician most often handles the optical, contact lens, and glasses side of things. Based on their vast knowledge of lenses, lens technology and frames, they manufacture eyeglasses, as well as assist in the selection of eyewear based on the requirements of each individual patient.'