The back to school season is a new and unfamiliar one for everyone this year. Don’t forget eye exams to support your child’s learning.
For many students, January can mean culminating activities and exams as the term comes to an end. Spending a lot of time looking at books and computer screens can lead to eye strain. Follow these tips to look after your eyes, or to help your kids to remember what they can do.
Books & Screens
It used to be that cramming and studying involved paper, books and blackboards, but students today are met with information to absorb across multi-media. Studying very often involves a lot of time on digital screens, which can lead to computer vision syndrome.
As the Canadian Association of Optometrists notes:
Having uncorrected hyperopia or myopia ,astigmatism or presbyopia can all make computer use less comfortable and efficient. Depending on your condition, your eyes could be exerting extra effort or be forced to work harder to maintain a clear image when viewing the screen. Even people with perfect vision may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches with prolonged computer use.
Good habits around prolonged screen use can go a long way to helping to reduce strain, including:
- using good habits around how you’re positioned in relation to your screen (for PC screens, this means at least arm’s length, and it’s a good idea to try the same with your phone)
- taking 20-20-20 breaks, which means looking away from your screen at something at least 20 feet away from you for a minimum of 20 seconds every 20 minutes (it’s a great chance to have a stretch and take a body break at the same time)
- finding other ways to chill during mini breaks that don’t involve yet more screen use so you really give your eyes a rest
Easing the Strain
If long days and evenings of study are taking a toll, you can give eyes a break by making an eye mask – this can be as simple as a cool, damp facecloth placed on your eyes, or chilled tea bags or cucumber slices. Saline eye drops can be helpful if dry eye is a real problem.
If you wear contacts, remember not to over wear them – if you’re pulling really long hours, stick to your routines for when you normally remove your contact lenses and instead use your backup glasses for a change.
See an Eye Doctor About Any Ongoing Issues
Don’t suffer in silence if ongoing headaches or visual problems are present during or after study periods. You or your child may be experiencing a genuine issue that should be explored with your eye doctor.