Tips to reduce digital eye strain for kids

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #MC #AOA


Photo Credit: HiTechSpring-121 on Flickr

Digital eye strain is a concern for ALL of the members of our house. Mykl and I both work on computers all day, so it’s imperative for us to be aware and take preventative measures to protect our eyes. Even though our kids don’t work full-time in front of a screen, we’re taking measures to reduce digital eye strain for them, too. It’s not exactly a secret my kids are big into technology. I’ve written about them using different devices plenty of times in the past, like when Levi bonded with his dad by teaching him how to play games on my tablet.  Or when Lucy and Mykl stole my Galaxy Note 3 to watch YouTube videos. Heck, I even shared Levi’s first Skype conversation with Tillie & Lucy before they moved in with us last fall. I remember as a little kid, my mom was worried about me sitting too close to the TV. Now, parents have even more stuff to worry about that could cause kids to experience digital eye strain. From computers at school to cell phones and tablets at home or even DVD players in the car, our kids are getting more screen time than ever. In fact, a new survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. The survey also reports that 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and17 estimate they use an electronic device for three or more hours each day. At first, I didn’t believe it. 3 hours a day seems like WAY more than what we allow for our kids. But then I broke it down for our older kids:

  • 30-45 min watching a show during breakfast
  • 30 min app play time with their Kindles in the afternoon
  • 1 hour TV time after dinner to wind down for bed
  • 15 min Skype call with their mom to say goodnight
  • 30 min individual reading time on their Kindles before Mykl reads them a bedtime story

That’s almost exactly 3 hours a day. Since it’s summer, I know some days that’s probably less and some days it can be more (take family movie night, for example). That’s a lot of screen time, and a lot of potential for digital eye strain to creep in.

What Is Digital Eye Strain?

Digital eye strain is a temporary vision condition caused by prolonged use of technology. Symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision, or head and neck pain. The kinds of light everyday electronic devices give off – high-energy, short-wavelength blue light – are a growing concern for optometrists, who are still evaluating how rays might affect and even age the eyes.

Tips For Reducing Digital Eye Strain

  • Practice the 20-20-20 rule. When using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Check the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
  • Check for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
  • Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
  • Adjust font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
  • Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

Comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist are essential in identifying the signs and symptoms associated with digital eye strain and other vision problems. The AOA recommends every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after six months of age, before age three and every year thereafter. Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye exams thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Act, through age 18. I admit I’m guilty of ignorance of that last part. Levi will be 4 later this month and hasn’t had an eye exam by an optometrist yet. Back in at the end of December, his pediatrician did a quick eye exam as part of his regular checkup, so I assumed that was all he needed at this age. You’d think I’d know better based on my own experience. I didn’t figure out I needed glasses until I was 15. I had been experiencing headaches for a while, but chalked that up to regular teenage stuff (not enough sleep, too much time studying, etc…) It wasn’t until my dad saw me struggling to read a street sign while I was practicing driving with my learner’s permit that he put everything together and brought me in for an eye exam. Lately Lucy has been complaining that her head hurts fairly often. In addition to using these tips to reduce digital eye strain, just in case that’s the culprit, we’ll be scheduling an eye exam as part of our back-to-school planning so we can have a professional make sure that’s not part of the issue. Check out this infographic with great info about digital eye strain. I’d love to hear your thoughts! AOA_Digital_Devices_infographic


  1. I don’t have a problem with digital eye strain. I do have a problem with digital neck strain though. I do exercises for it.

  2. Kids these days spend so much time on the computer. I can see why digital eye strain can be a problem

  3. Those are great tips. I know my oldest son actually uses the computer more than 3hours a day. He usually sits pretty close to the TV when he’s playing video games as well. I usually have to tell him to get off.

  4. These are fabulous pointers! I always try to take a screen break! I normally try to get up and stretch my legs as well as my eyes!

  5. These are great tips. I think all of us are on electronic devices so much, we really need to pay attention to this. Thanks for raising awareness.

  6. I think these tips are great for me even as a blogger. I often find that my eyes get dry, strained, and tired from being on the computer for long periods at a time.

  7. These are great tips.We limit the time our kids are on the computer or in front of any screens.

  8. My daughter was complaining about dry eyes the other day. I wonder if this is what caused it.

  9. My eyes have gotten worse since having so many devices. I hope my kids can utilize these tips to prevent any eye damage. Fantastic tips!

  10. Thanks for these great tips. Some days I spend as much as 15 hours in front of some sort of screen and by the evening hours I can tell because it gets blurry. I even made myself and eye doctor’s appointment because I was concerned. These tips will be a great help!

  11. Jennifer Williams says:

    My boys get frustrated because we are very strict when it comes to any kind of screen time. We insist they get out and get active every day and screen time is limited to when it is dark or 30 minutes now that it never seems to get dark here. The time can add up quickly if you are not carful!

  12. Good tips, especially for people like me who sit in front of a screen all day! And I love that infographic!

  13. I know I have issues myself with digital eyestrain since I work on the computer all day. I never thought about the kids having issues with it though because I try to limit their time on the computer and electronics. Thanks for the great tips.

  14. This is such a growing concern with kids today. I’m determined to limit my kids screen time though… and mine.

  15. There’s special glasses that you are able to buy that helps with this problem, it makes it so your eyes don’t hurt while on the computer for too long.

  16. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    great post. I will definitely try these tips.

  17. These are wonderful tips as everything these days is digital.

  18. I can tell when my eyes have had enough. They start to feel dry and a headache can even start. The 20-20-20 rule a good one, just don’t look at a TV 20 feet away!

  19. That infographic is so very helpful. I want to save it. I know for myself that I use the computer quite a bit during the day. I try to follow that 20/20/20 rule, but sometimes I do forget. I must be more vigilant with this in the future.

  20. I did not know of this 20-20-20 rule. Makes perfect sense. Will also be blinking more now when doing screen time. Especially now that I’m pretty much in front of the pc 11 hours a day.

  21. Wow, I did not know this. My kids do a lot of stuff on their devices daily.

  22. Definitely take breaks every 20 minutes! Also, get up to walk around a bit to get some exercise as well 🙂

  23. My vision has been going since I’ve been working on my computer for longer hours. Thanks for sharing these tips, I totally need them!

  24. The 6yr old gets an hour during the school year and two in the summer. He’s got it down to a science now. 🙂

  25. Great info and so important with our kids growing up in this “high tech” world!!

  26. This is a lot of great info. I could follow some of these rules myself.

  27. 3 hours does add up fast doesn’t it. Thanks for the 20-20-20 tip!

  28. thank you – i needed this – it helps especially for people who constantly is in front of the pc

  29. We use devices for so much these days so eye strain is a result. But with these great points and reminders we can manage that better for us and our families.

  30. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I am worried that my kids are ruining their eyesight by sitting in front of the computer for hours at a time. I know I won’t be able to get them awhile from the computer screen, so I might as well mitigate the damage as much as possible. It also sounds like I should take them to the optometrist to make sure their eyes are doing alright!

Speak Your Mind