Parents and Children Don’t See Eye-to-Eye

HARRISBURG, Pa. (July 23, 2014) - Rising technology use in both homes and classrooms is leaving parents underestimating the time their children actually spend on digital devices. The American Optometric Association (AOA) conducted a survey that discovered 83 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 use an electronic device for at least three hours a day. Only 40 percent of parents polled on a separate survey were aware that their children were using digital devices for that same amount of time. These statistics may indicate that parents are likely to overlook warning signs associated with vision problems caused by technology use.

Prolonged technology use can cause burning, itchy or tired eyes, headaches, fatigue, loss of focus and blurred vision. This temporary condition is called digital eye strain. To protect vision from digital eye strain, children should practice the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break by staring at something 20 feet away. The following tips can also reduce this particular type of eye strain:

  • Make sure computer screens are four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Hold digital devices, like phones and tablets, slightly below eye level.
  • Turn your desk or computer away from windows or other light sources to prevent glare on the screen.
  • Match the room lighting and the computer screen by using a lower-watt bulb in the overhead light.
  • Make text bigger and easier to read.
  • To minimize the chances of developing dry eye, blink frequently and fully.

Also concerning is the effect that high-energy, short-wavelength blue light emitted from electronic devices can have on the eyes. Early research on the topic shows that overexposure to blue light may be a contributing factor to eye strain and discomfort, and may lead to serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.

The Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA) recommends that children have regular eye exams by an optometrist to keep their eyesight healthy and strong. POA also encourages parents to start their child's eye exams early. Every child should have an examination after 6 months of age and again before age 3. Now, under the Affordable Care Act, children through age 18 are covered for yearly comprehensive eye exams.

To learn more about eye and vision health, or to find a nearby doctor of optometry, please visit


About the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA):

The Pennsylvania Optometric Association is the professional organization for over 1,250 doctors of optometry in Pennsylvania. An affiliate of the American Optometric Association, POA promotes the highest quality eye and vision care by optometrists, represents optometry to state government, provides its members with post-graduate education and membership benefits, and conducts activities in the interest of the visual welfare of the public. For more information, visit

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit