Digital classrooms and eye strain

The school year is right around the corner and many students will forgo classes in person and continue their studies in digital classrooms at home due to social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just because learning is taking place away from school doesn’t mean that eye exams and eye health should be avoided or not considered. In fact, screen time puts increased strain on eyes, so students need to understand how best to keep their vision at its best while school is “in session” outside of the classroom.

Since so much learning is done visually, it is important your child has an eye exam so she or he can learn effectively and without hindrance. Tower Clock Eye Center optometrists Dr. Amanda Jolly and Dr. Michael Servi both offer comprehensive eye exams for students. Healthy eyes set students up to achieve their highest learning potential, and comprehensive eye exams are crucial.

Tower Clock Eye Center provides comprehensive exams for students in digital remote virtual classrooms to prevent eye strain from looking at screens.

The tests performed by our medical optometrists far exceed those screenings many schools or family practice doctors may do or have done in the past. Visiting your optometrist can catch any number of eye conditions earlier than a simple screening will; when caught early vision problems can be corrected sooner or treatment begun earlier to improve, if not solve, the eye condition.

Online learning concerns

Digital classrooms mean long sessions of screen time, making eyes weary. There are many factors that contribute to digital eye strain, including viewing distance, contrast, luminosity, font size, glare and even the angle of the screen being viewed. All of these screen factors need to be considered and adjustments be made to make eyes as comfortable as possible.

To help reduce eye exhaustion our doctors make several recommendations to help students reduce the amount of strain on their eyes:

  • Following the 20/20/20 second rule: Every 20 minutes look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Appropriate screen distance and position. It is advised that students follow the 1/2/10 foot rule: One foot from their eyes to the screen for mobile devices, Two feet for tablets and laptops, and at least 10 feet for televisions.
  • Adequate lighting. Lighting is important because too much or too little causes eyes to work harder to find a comfortable level to work. We recommend trying to match the screen brightness with the surrounding area: If it’s dark, dim the screen and if it’s bright, brighten it.
  • Proper sitting posture. Sitting properly will allow eyes to move naturally, but slouching will force the eyes into a less natural position. Also, posture puts less strain on your back and neck.
  • Blinking frequently helps the eye to lubricate itself.
  • Designate a “turn off time” when learning ends for the day and screens get turned off. Drs. Jolly and Servi recommend sometime between 5pm and 7pm.

Blue light

Additionally tablets, laptops and cellphones emit higher levels of blue light, a specific wavelength in the light spectrum that can potentially cause eye fatigue and strain while in digital classrooms. Tower Clock Eye Center offers glasses with lens technology that blocks specific blue light. Blue light is also known to disrupt common circadian rhythm cycles – causing less sleep. Our optometrists recommend students stop studying at least two hours before bedtime to allow natural melatonin levels to cycle in.

It will be an interesting school year for sure and whether your student is in the classroom or learning from home, comprehensive eye exams will give your student the best opportunity to learn at their peak potential.

To make a back-to-school eye exam appointment with one of our optometrists, or to learn more about blue light blocking glasses, please call 920 499-3102.

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