Digital Eye Strain in Children: Causes and Prevention

Dr Nandini Sankaranarayanan
September 28, 2020

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The booming market for digital devices has flooded us with plenty of options to choose from, for various purposes ranging from entertainment to educational and professional uses. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops and video gaming devices have come to play an important part in our daily lives, however, they have also impacted our lifestyles, resulting in some new types of health issues. One of the most common results of the improper/excessive use of digital devices has been an unpleasant eye condition called ‘digital eye strain’.

What is digital eye strain?

Digital eye strain results from spending long hours on digital devices. Common symptoms include watering, itching, stinging or burning sensation, with tired and achy eyes. Sometimes there may be blurring of vision and headache after intense use of digital devices.

Until recently, this condition was commonly seen among IT professionals. But lately, we see many children as young as 4-5 years old being brought to the Ophthalmologist, with digital eye strain.

What has changed for these children? With the shifting of schools to online learning due to the current pandemic, children now spend longer durations with gadgets. It is important that we teach our children on ways to use digital devices without straining their eyes.

Dos and Don’ts for children while using digital devices for long durations

1. Make sure that they sit in well-lit rooms.

2. The device must have a large screen. Avoid small screens like mobile phones or tablets.

3. The screen should be about 40-50 cm from the eyes with a tilt of 10-20 degree and just below the eye level for comfortable viewing.

4. Encourage them to take a break from the screen every 20 minutes or so, and look at some far off object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds before resuming work on the screen. This is called 20-20-20 rule which gives much needed relief for the muscles of the eyes.

5. Use break times to rest and relax the eye. Avoid using digital devices during breaks.

6. Encourage them to blink more often. The blink rate of eyes comes down to about 3-4 from a normal blink rate of 12-15, as one works on the screen for long periods. This hampers the spreading of tear-film, causing dry patches and discomfort in the eyes.

7. For any online extracurricular activities, it’s a good idea to cast it on television which has a bigger screen and can be viewed from far off distance without strain on the eyes.

8. Avoid screen-related activities about 1-2 hours prior to bedtime.

When to consult a doctor

Following the tips outlined above will go a long way in avoiding digital eye strain, especially in young eyes. In spite of all these precautions, it’s not unusual for the child to complain of redness, watering, itching, blurring, headache and in severe cases, even squinting of eyes.

In any of the aforementioned cases, immediate consultation must be sought from a qualified Specialist Ophthalmologist who will thoroughly evaluate their eyes and give appropriate treatment. It’s not unusual for the ophthalmologist to detect refractive problems or squint in eyes which the child and parents may not be aware of.

The only connect for our children with the outside world in these challenging times is through these digital devices! Let us not chide them for using these devices, but teach them the proper way of utilizing them for their benefit!

 

Dr Nandini Sankaranarayanan is a Specialist Ophthalmologist at Thumbay Medical and Dental Specialty Centre, Sharjah.

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News Network
September 16,2021

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Virat Kohli on Thursday took to social media to announce that he will be stepping down as captain of the Indian cricket team in T20Is after the completion of the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14. He will continue to lead the team in Test cricket and ODIs.

"I have decided to step down as the T20 captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October," Kohli wrote in a post that he shared on his social media handles.

Kohli took over as captain in the shortest format in 2017 after MS Dhoni stepped down from his position. This will be the first time that Kohli will lead India in the ICC T20 World Cup. He has led the team to the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and the semi-final of the 2019 ICC World Cup in the past.

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News Network
September 25,2021

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that countries with "regressive thinking" that are using terrorism as a "political tool" must understand that it is an equally big threat for them also, in a veiled attack on Pakistan which is often accused by its neighbours of providing safe havens to terrorists.

Addressing the 76th UN General Assembly here, Prime Minister Modi also said that in order to strengthen the rules-based world order, the international community must speak in unison, in an apparent reference to China which is flexing its military muscles in the Indo-Pacific.

Noting that the world is facing an increased threat of regressive thinking and extremism, Modi said countries that are using terrorism as a political tool have to understand that terrorism is an equally big threat to them.

"It is absolutely essential to ensure that Afghanistan's territory is not used to spread terrorism and for terrorist activities,” he said. “We also need to ensure that no country tries to take advantage of the delicate situation in Afghanistan and use it for its own selfish interests.”

Pakistan’s neighbours, including Afghanistan and India, and the US have long accused Islamabad of providing safe haven and support to militants, a charge denied by it.

Modi said that oceans are also a shared heritage.

"Our oceans are also the lifeline of international trade. We must protect them from the race for expansion. The international community must speak in one voice to strengthen a rule-based world order,” he added. 

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News Network
September 15,2021

New Delhi, Sept 15: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday attacked the BJP and RSS, alleging that they were "fake Hindus" who use religion for their benefit.

Addressing the foundation day of the All India Mahila Congress here, Gandhi said that the ideology of the Congress was completely opposite of the BJP and RSS and only one of the two ideologies can rule the country.

Asserting that Goddess Lakshmi stands for the power that helps one attain one's goals and Goddess Durga stands for the power that protects, the former Congress chief said while his party had strengthened these powers when in government, the ruling BJP dispensation has diminished these powers.

"Ye kis prakar ke Hindu hain. Ye jhoote Hindu hain. Ye Hindu dharm ka prayog karte hain, ye dharm ki dalali karte hain, magar ye Hindu nahin hain (What kind of Hindus are they? They are fake Hindus. They use Hindu religion, they are brokers of religion, but they are not Hindus," Gandhi said, attacking the BJP and RSS. 

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