Holiday Gifts Put Vision at Risk

Holiday Gifts Put Vision at Risk

The Vision Council urges parents to take precautions with video and computer game gifts

Washington, DC (December 17, 2009) - With the ever-growing popularity of computers, video games and cell phones, incidences of vision problems are increasing. This holiday season, The Vision Council is warning parents to be aware of the effects of eye strain caused by computer, television and cell phone use.

Too much time in front of a computer screen, playing video games and text messaging can cause a repetitive refocusing effort for the eye muscles, leading to a variety of symptoms including blurred vision, double vision, headaches, dry and irritated eyes and even near- and farsightedness. Eyes work harder when reading a digital screen versus reading traditional materials. In fact, eyes blink five times less often when in front of a digital screen.

Eye strain is a serious problem for children who spend more than two hours a day at a computer or in front of a television, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. Because prolonged use can create stress on eyes and hinder proper development, it is important for parents to monitor their children's television, video games and computer use to prevent eye strain.

In addition to eye strain, a recent study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology found an increase in nearsightedness caused by an increase in the close-up activities of text messaging and looking at a computer screen. It is important to balance far- and near-focused vision to retain the proper eye shape and prevent nearsightedness.

Through preventative measures and proper care, the chance of suffering from eye strain and nearsightedness can be reduced:

  • Limit your children and teen's computer, texting, video game and television use time.
  • Ensure children are taking frequent breaks when playing on the computer or playing video games.
  • Have children exercise their eyes during breaks to reduce focusing fatigue.
    • Looking at objects in close range then long range can relax the focusing muscles and reduce eye fatigue.
    • Blinking slowly 10 times will rewet the eyes and relax eye muscles.
    • The 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
  • Make sure that the television and computer are viewed in the proper manner.
    • For children, the recommended distance from a computer is 18-28. The recommended distance to watch TV is four to five times the width of the TV screen.
    • Adjust the height of the monitor so the view of the screen is slightly downward, at a 15-degree angle.
    • Use proper lighting - eliminate exterior light by closing drapes, shades or blinds. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or use lower intensity bulbs and tubes.
    • Adjust the contrast and brightness of the television and computer screen so that it is relatively the same as the environment.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of computer eye strain.
  • Have your child's vision checked regularly. If your child wears eyeglasses, talk to your eye care professional about eyeglasses for computer use.

For more information about vision and computer eye strain, please contact Maureen Beddis at (703) 740-9496 or mbeddis@thevisioncouncil.org; or Starla Stiles at (202) 745-5065 or sstiles@gymr.com.

Dedicated to enhancing life through better vision, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. We provide a forum to advocate for better vision and to promote quality vision care products and services in the global community.