Computer time leading to vision problems for kids

(Radio Iowa) – Many of us spend long hours staring at computer screens, tablets, TVs and our tiny telephones. It can lead to vision problems, headaches and worse. Iowa optometrist Dr. Beth Triebel calls it Computer Vision Syndrome and she says it’s not just adults who are becoming afflicted with this high-tech health problem.

“Kids, especially between the ages of 8 and 18, are spending more and more time every day on those screen devices as well,” Dr. Triebel says, from her office in West Des Moines. “They’re starting to exhibit some of those symptoms, such as: blurred vision, tired eyes and it can even lead to needing glasses at much earlier ages than you would expect.”

Parents need to keep close tabs on how long their kids have their noses in front of their laptops or the TV watching shows or playing video games. “It’s important for them to not just be stuck staring at a screen,” Triebel says. “Try to limit it and give them maybe two hours at a time before they need to go change and do something else, send them outdoors.”

For anyone who spends endless hours in front of the various screens, she suggests following the 20-20-20 rule to preserve your eyesight — and possibly your sanity. “Every 20 minutes, try to look away for 20 seconds at something farther than 20 feet away,” Triebel says. “That’s a good thing for kids, too. They get so engrossed. They need to take a break and look away and then come back to it.”

A recent study showed children between 8 and 18 devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day with the use of entertainment media, including TVs, computers, tablets, video games and cell phones. The same study found those kids also spend more time listening to music, playing games and watching video content on their cell phones than they do –talking– on the same phone.