Tips for E-Learning & Excess Screen Time

BY:  Karen H. Chao, O.D. 

With most everyone either working from home or attending school online, people are using computers and digital technology more than ever.  It is important to understand that our eyes are not designed to be focused on a computer screen for hours at a time.  Signs that you or your family member has been looking at digital devices too long, or has difficulty looking at a computer screen, tablet or smart phone, include:

  • eyes feel strained and tired
  • dry eyes
  • headaches
  • sensitivity to light
  • neck pain
  • blurred vision
  • loss of productivity
  • decreased vision at night

One of the causes of visual stress is the working distance required to use the variety of digital devices.  Special lenses can be prescribed that are designed to help reduce the strain.  Be sure to let your eye doctor know the actual distance from your eyes to your computer monitor when you go for your appointment.  A lot of parents want to know if there is any danger from the blue light from the computer and digital device screens.  While there is a lot of controversy on this topic, we have found that protecting our patients from blue light is important.  This should be done nutritionally as well as with blue light protective lenses purchased through your optometrist.

We recommend you get nutritional protection through two different products by EyePromise:  Screen Shield™ Pro for adults and Screen Shield™ Teen.  They contain critical antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, which have been found to work together to help protect our central vision while they also absorb harmful blue light.

If it is possible, reduce your time on digital devices and computers and apply the 20-20-20 rule: take a break every 20 minutes and look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  The easiest way to implement this is to set a timer when you sit down to work on a computer or digital device.

Children (and adults) with eye movement, tracking and eye coordination problems may also have difficulty understanding the information presented with these devices. But, because children do not always know how they are supposed to see, they do not complain.  As a result, in many cases these vision problems are easily mistaken for attention and learning problems because the symptoms are very similar. Here are some of the more common signs that your child may be struggling with eye movement, tracking and/or eye coordination problems, when reading or doing close work:

  • Eyes feel tired, sore, uncomfortable and/or hurt
  • Have headaches
  • Feel sleepy
  • Lose concentration
  • Have trouble remembering what was read
  • Have ghosting, shadowing or double vision
  • Words move, jump, swim or appear to float on the page
  • Assignments take longer than they should
  • There feels like there is a “pulling” feeling around the eyes
  • The words blur or come in and out of focus
  • Lose your place
  • Need to reread the same line of words

In addition, some children might avoid doing schoolwork, even though they might enjoy playing video games for hours.  If you or your child experience two or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, or you feel your child is struggling with reading and learning, schedule an appointment with a Developmental Optometrist.  To find a doctor near you, visit: