AOA’s 2014 American Eye-Q® survey of the public about their eye health knowledge demonstrates the importance of eye exams for children, and before school is the prime time to remind teachers, patients, and the public about this need.
This survey, for the first time, the AOA questioned children separately from adults, and the findings revealed that parents greatly underestimate the time their children spend on digital devices. Results showed 83 percent of children ages 10-17 say they use an electronic device for at least three hours each day.
In separate survey of parents showed that only 40 percent of parents believe their children use an electronic device for that same amount of time.
These findings are a key part the AOA’s annual Ready-for-School public awareness campaign, which stresses the concern eye doctors have about this significant disparity. Unfortunately, because parents tend to underestimate the amount of time their children spend with electronic devices, they are also more likely to overlook warning signs and symptoms associated with vision problems due to technology use, such as digital eye strain.
The Ready-for-School contains recommendations for avoiding digital eye strain, including the 20-20-20 rule: When using technology or doing near work, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away. According to the AOA survey, 32 percent of children go a full hour using technology before they take a visual break. The materials also highlights new, and growing, concerns about the potential dangers of the kind of light emitted by digital devices.
The AOA recommends that every child have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after 6 months of age and before age 3. In addition, the pediatric essential health benefit in the Affordable Care Act now provides yearly comprehensive eye exams to children through age 18.