A large study conducted by the National Eye Institute and published in the December 2009 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology found that the prevalence of nearsightedness among Americans has increased from 25 percent to 41.6 percent of the population over the past 30 years — an increase of more than 66 percent.
Also, among people with 12 or more years of formal education, the prevalence of myopia is now as high as 59.8 percent.
Should you worry about how much time your child spends in front of the computer every day?
Sitting for hours in front of a computer screen stresses a child’s eyes because the computer forces the child’s vision system to focus and strain a lot more than any other task. This can put children at an even greater risk than adults for developing symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
Today it is a “near-point world,” and parents need to be aware of the vision problems associated with computer work. Computer use demands fine motor skills from young eyes that are not well developed. Only when the visual system matures is a child better able to handle the stress of a computer on that system.
Parents should consider these factors affecting children and computer use:
- Children may not be aware of how much time they are spending at a computer. They may perform a task on the computer for hours with few breaks. This prolonged activity can cause eye focusing and eye strain problems.
- Children are very adaptable. They assume that what they see and how they see is normal — even if their vision is problematic. That’s why it is important for parents to monitor the time a child spends working at a computer and make sure they have regular eye exams as directed by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- Children are smaller than adults. Since computer workstations often are arranged for adult use, this can change the viewing angle for young children. Computer users should view the screen slightly downward, at a 15-degree angle. Also, if a child has difficulty reaching the keyboard or placing their feet comfortably on the floor, he or she may experience neck, shoulder and/or back pain.