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August is Children’s Eye Health & Safety Month. Children will be on holiday, so they would probably be playing or attending summer school. Many times, to get them to settle down, television, devices or books would be put before them, and some sanity would be restored at home or in school. But the down side to these options is that excessive staring at screens or hardcopy books can cause eye strain.

Studies have shown evidence that near work activities cause at least part of the worldwide increase in near-sightedness, also known as myopia. More studies are ongoing to pinpoint exactly what is causing the increase, but in the meantime, parents and guardians, here are some things you can do to help care for your children’s eyes.

  1. Set a recurring 20- minute timer on your phone whenever they are reading a book or using a device
  2. Teach them to look up every two chapters to ease eye strain
  3. Teach them to avoid using screens under direct sunlight or in bright lightly lit areas
  4. Encourage them to hold devices farther away from their faces. 18 to 24 inches is ideal.
  5. Create distractions to make them break their concentration on something they have been gazing at for a while.
  6. Teach them how to adjust the brightness of their screens so it doesn’t strain their eyes
  7. Teach them to consciously blink when watching a screen
  8. Let them spend time outdoors.

This last point might not be easy to pull off, but it is well worth the effort and inconvenience to you the caregiver. Outdoor play gives them more to look at and less to focus their gaze on. Research has shown that spending time outdoors particularly in early childhood, can slow the progression of myopia.

So let’s get those kids out of the house, off the TV and without their phones this holiday. It will do them and their eyes a world of good.