of Varied Visual Experience
Children nowadays can be exposed to visually
intensive activities such as T.V watching and
computer games etc. from a very young age. It is
important to realize that the eyes are most
easily "moulded" in this age group.
Prolonged eye use, especially with computers, can
lead to more permanent structural changes of the
eyes. The most common of these is myopia (short-sightedness),
although in some children, the eyes can also
develop astigmatic changes.
Children in this age group should not be using
their eyes intensively for more than 10 to 20
minutes at a time. Even within this time span,
the very young child should ideally be encouraged
or distracted to regularly look away from the
object of interest, at least every five minutes.
If it is known that the child engages in a lot of
close work, he or she should be examined so that performance lenses ("relaxing"
glasses) can be prescribed, especially if there
is evidence of even a relatively small vision
defect. For example, if astigmatism is present
and the eyes undergo prolonged amounts of close
work, short-sightedness can develop. This is
because the child needs to move closer to the
object of regard in order to see more clearly,
imposing a greater strain on the visual system.
In the long term this can have adverse effects on
the neck and spine due to the bad posture
involved in leaning the head forwards.
There are several other important factors to
consider if we wish to prevent vision problems in
very young children. The distance, at which they
sit and watch T.V, should be a minimum of
5 times the width of the T.V.
screen. This enables them to have other objects
in their field of view, to which they can
occasional shift their focus. Even very short-lasting
changes of gaze away from the object of regard,
can help prevent adverse effects on the eyes. The
room's light-source should be of a diffuse type
and should not be directly visible when watching
T.V. The light level in the room should be
moderately low so as to maintain the contrast of
the picture on the T.V screen, however, there
should be enough light so as to be able to
clearly see any other objects within the room.
See Appendix I for
more detailed general advice on how to prevent
vision problems through good vision habits. Also
see section I(B) for brief advice on correction of