I can’t take credit for that expression of gratitude, but the sentiment comes to my mind often. As an eye doctor, and a mother, the value of sight is something I’m aware of almost daily. Many of us don’t appreciate our vision or how our eyes feel until something is wrong, but there is much to be said for having regular eye exams before there is a problem. At New Jersey Eye and Ear we are a family of doctors, all dedicated to preserving the sight and well being of all our patients, from the very youngest to the oldest. Prescribing a pair of glasses for a child who has had difficulty seeing the board in school, so that they may excel. Providing cataract surgery with new lens implants for patients whose vision has begun to interfere with driving, reading and enjoying their television programs. Helping patients with allergies and dry eyes find relief, and working to break generational patterns of vision loss from conditions like glaucoma and diabetes. This is what drives those of us who focus on eye care.
We depend on our eyes for so much. What does your sight mean to you? Whatever that is, remember to take every opportunity to take care of those two hard working, precious gifts, for yourself and the people you love.
This leads me to the topic of the new normal, screen time and your children’s eye health.
Since COVID-19 has closed many school buildings and driven students to a virtual setting, screen time and eye health have become an increasing concern. Eye physicians have noticed a significant increase in dry eye syndrome and eye strain from too much screen time. It is safe to say that most computer users experience digital eye strain. Children are no different than adults. They can experience dry eye, headaches and blurry vision, too. Usually these symptoms are temporary, but we can expect them to become more frequent if certain precautions aren’t taken. These symptoms don’t necessarily mean there is always a need for computer glasses. It means that more frequent breaks from the screen need to be taken. These symptoms arise simply because we are not blinking as often while we’re using the computer and other digital devices, leaving the eyes dry and irritated. Eye care professionals recommend the 20/20/20 rule. We recommend that patients take a break every 20 minutes by looking somewhere more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Here are some tips to help reduce your children’s eye strain from screen use:
• Set a kitchen timer or a smart device timer to remind them.
• Pre-mark books with a paperclip every two chapters to remind your child to look up. On an e-book, use the “bookmark” function for the same effect.
• Use good posture when using a computer.
• Make sure they view laptops at arm’s length, about 18 to 24 inches from where they are sitting. They should have a monitor positioned at eye level, directly in front of the body. Tablets should also be held at arm’s length
• To reduce glare, position the light source behind the back, not behind the computer screen.
• Remember that although anti-glare and blue filter glasses can increase comfort levels in front of the computer screen, frequent breaks are still recommended.
Lastly, eye care professionals urge parents to ensure that children spend more time outdoors. Several studies suggest that spending time outdoors during early childhood can slow the progression of nearsightedness. We now live in an electronic age. Exposure to digital screens is inevitable, so it’s important to teach our children good habits early.
Schedule your appointment at any one of our offices today. For more information, visit our website at njeyeandear.com.
We also offer an array of services including audiology (hearing aids), ENT, ophthalmology and an optical boutique for adults and children. We take most insurances and are open on Sundays!
By Adria Burrows, M.D.