Will smartphones and tablets make learning-related vision problems worse?

Life in the 21st century demands more from our children’s visual processing systems than ever before. Children use their vision at school and home differently than we have in the past. In general, today’s students spend less time than past generations on the playground, exploring the outdoors, or engaged in activities that do not involve focusing on a screen.

For both classroom and recreational use, children focus on screens with back-lighted text and digital images. Computers, televisions, smart phones, tablets, video game devices, and even classroom ActivBoards and Promethan boards demand their attention to complete assignments, do research, and entertain.

Technological advancements are a wonderful thing, but excessive reliance on technology can cause eyestrain and stress for even the healthiest visual system. For children that have visual deficiencies, the problem can be even worse.

For a child with a vision problem, environmental stresses caused by the proliferation of technology can induce blurred vision, double vision, eyestrain, headaches, motion sickness, and an even further reduced ability to function in a classroom setting under normal conditions. Reading, writing, and school performance can become even more difficult, because the child has had little time to rest his eyes at home.

Video games and web surfing may hold their attention while also straining their vision; so then when it’s time to complete work, their eyes have become more tired and their visual processing system more fatigued. An existing undiagnosed vision deficiency, such as convergence insufficiency or an eye teaming or eye tracking problem, often becomes more pronounced.

Fortunately, with the benefit of a comprehensive individualized vision therapy program, students will be able to:

  • focus better
  • improve eye tracking and eye teaming
  • enhance hand-eye coordination
  • reduce blurry or double vision
  • strengthen visual processing abilities
  • and more…

Preventing your child from using technology is not the answer. Just as we continued watching television when our parents warned us we would “ruin” our eyes, today’s children will continue to use computers and other digital devices.

While placing limits on technology can help to ease environmental strain, some video games, apps, and television programming are educational. Being able to use technology will likely be important to your child’s long-term success and happiness, so why not get him or her the help needed?

Children with vision problems can best enjoy technology along with their peers if they have undergone vision therapy training to strengthen their visual processing system.

If you suspect your child might have a learning-related vision problem that is exacerbated by the environmental stresses of technology, schedule functional vision exam with an optometrist who specializes in developmental vision care and vision therapy as soon as possible.

If you are in Olney, Maryland, or nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, contact the Visual Learning Center today.

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