If you have children who spend many hours using computers or reading books, get them to take frequent breaks to help protect their eyes. So advises the American Academy of Ophthalmology, out of concern not only about eye strain and dry eye, but also about increasing rates of childhood myopia (nearsightedness).
Nonstop close work, combined with reduced outdoor time, increases the risk of myopia by causing elongation of eyeballs so that light rays from a near object will come into focus more readily. Being outdoors, in contrast, allows the eyes to focus on distances and thus relax.
The Academy advises children to take 20-second breaks from close work—preferably looking out a window towards the distance—every 20 minutes or so. It suggests setting a time for breaks, or distracting children from their screens periodically. Children should also sit with good posture and blink regularly (blinking tends to slow with computer work).
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Are Mobile Devices Ruining Our Eyes?