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COVID-19 and eyestrain: Tips for virtual learners


Black girl looking at  computer screen, with school books

Kids are spending a lot of time in front of electronic devices these days. If the students in your home are returning to school virtually this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Evan Silverstein of Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU offers these tips to limit eye strain and maximize vision.

Watch Dr. Silverstein explain how to help reduce eyestrain



Remember the 20-20-20 rule

First and foremost, remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. When our eyes are constantly focusing on a computer, we need to allow time for them to relax and readjust so they’re not always straining.

Get in the proper position

The second thing is positioning. Your child should be about 18-24 inches from the computer screen with their eyes perfectly aligned with the screen. This not only helps their eyes, but also prevents slouching or straining of the neck.

Pay attention to lighting and location

Lighting is very important. Using a device in a dark room will cause significant eye strain, so encourage kids to keep the lights on. Also, think about the location of your child’s learning space within the room. Windows should be behind your child, rather than behind the screen, to decrease glare.

Give their eyes some natural light

Another pandemic in this world is nearsightedness, a condition where you can see nearby objects clearly but those farther away are blurry. A significant number of children these days require glasses to correct their nearsightedness. Try to get outside one to two hours a day to make sure your child gets natural light in their eyes. This will help prevent the progression of nearsightedness – and promote exercise too.

What about blue light blocking glasses?

I get a lot of questions about blue light blocking glasses. There’s no good science right now that supports the use of these glasses, so I don’t recommend them. Instead, the above tips protect and relax the eyes with no cost or trip to the store!

If your child is experiencing vision problems, we can help. Call (804) 828-2467 or request an appointment online.

Look for more articles, videos and other resources to support your child’s unique return to learning during the coronavirus.