Preeti is a 9 year old girl who complains of burning sensation after a prolonged online class.
Rahul a 12 year old who complains of watering after looking at the screen for some time.
Deepta says she experiences double vision at the end of the day. Her mother notices that her eyes deviate outwards more frequently than before.
These are some common problems with the children that have cropped in households during this lockdown period. Due to this ongoing lockdown, the mode of learning has changed completely. Students are now regularly attending online classes and studying e-books. Even if the lockdown is over, students will have to stay home till the school reopens with additional security measures.
All these complaints are related to prolonged hours of learning on the computers/mobile devices. Reading or watching anything online for long hours can be harmful for the eyes of a kid. What are the precautionary measures that can then be taken? How do we ensure that their eyes remain healthy in spite of this exposure to the screen?
We all have the tendency to avoid blinking when we concentrate and read. This happens with children too. Children should be encouraged to blink while staring at the screen. This will prevent the tear film from drying up and cause less burning sensation of the eyes.
After a 30 min online class, a child should be encouraged to avoid near – work and shift the focus on distant objects for a while. This gives rest to the muscles which help in focussing on the near objects once again. Children may experience less of eye strain and brow ache.
Proper positioning of the gadget is a must. Ensuring proper font size and background illumination on the screen to avoid excessive eye strain.
In case the child sees double objects for distant and near, a proper consultation with a paediatric ophthalmologist is essential.
Another word of caution is to avoid other modes of online entertainment (games, watching TV) in the free hours. Excessive near – work can be quite discomforting. Children should be encouraged to indulge in other indoor activities. Avid readers could resort to audio books temporarily to avoid excessive near – work.
-Dr Ipsita Basu, MBBS, DO, DNB, DipNB, Consultant – Pediatric Ophthalmology, Disha Eye Hospitals