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Back-to-school screen time can create eye strain issues

There used to be a strict separation between school and “screen time,” but that’s often no longer the case.

As technology continues to be integrated into classrooms, even young children now complete learning on computers or tablets.

“Spending additional time looking at screens can definitely have an effect on one’s eyes, including but not limited to dry eyes, eye fatigue, and insomnia,” said SSM Health Optometrist Dr. Larissa Brigham.

During the past several years, the popularity of blue light glasses has grown for both kids and adults.

These glasses contain a special type of lens technology that is supposed to filter the light or “glow” from a screen, thus reducing eyestrain.

Are they worth purchasing?

“It depends on who you ask – some feel they have experienced benefit from blue light glasses, while others say they’ve made no difference at all,” Dr. Brigham said.

While more research is needed to truly prove efficacy, there are additional strategies to help with eyestrain, which includes symptoms such as soreness, tiredness, itchiness, watery or dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and sensitivity to light.

“One of the best things you can do to prevent eyestrain is take breaks for your eyes,” Brigham said. “The 20-20-20 rule works nicely.”

With the 20-20-20 rule, people should look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.

“This gives your eyes the rest they need to avoid eyestrain,” Brigham said.

People can also use artificial tear eye drops, balance the lighting of the room to match the brightness of your device and wear their glasses or contacts as prescribed. In addition, stop using blue light devices at least 1 hour before bed. This will improve the body’s circadian rhythm and improve sleep cycles.

“If you’re continuing to have issues, be sure to bring this up during your regular eye exam,” Dr. Brigham said.

Signs of additional vision problems in children may include frequent eye rubbing, closing or covering one eye, tilting or turning the head when looking at objects, sitting very close to objects, or squinting.

Regular eye exams are a very important part of overall health and should be part of each child’s back-to-school routine. To learn more or find an eye care location near you, visit


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