2014 Ready for School Campaign Talking Points/Key Messages

2014 Ready for School Campaign Talking Points/Key Messages
2014 Ready for School Campaign
Talking Points/Key Messages
FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY; DOCUMENT NOT TO BE SHARED WITH MEDIA
I.
The use of technology among children both at home and in the classroom is on the rise, and a
new survey shows that parents drastically underestimate the time their kids spend on digital
devices.
o According to an American Optometric Association (AOA) survey of children between the ages of
10 and 17, 83 percent of kids say they spend three or more hours each day on digital devices.
o A separate AOA survey of parents revealed that only 40 percent of parents believe their children
use an electronic device for that same amount of time. Most parents believe the time their kids
spend using technology is far less than what it is.
o This disparity may indicate that parents are more likely to overlook warning signs and symptoms
associated with vision problems due to technology use.
II.
Digital eye strain and exposure to blue light rays are among eye doctors’ top concerns as kids
spend more time on electronic devices.
o Eighty percent of children surveyed by the AOA report experiencing burning, itchy or tired eyes
after using electronic devices for long periods of time.
o Additional symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision,
double vision or head and neck pain.
o Many of the symptoms are temporary; however, some people continue to experience visual
problems, such as blurred distance vision, even after computer work has stopped.
o Pre-existing, uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, difficulty with
focusing or eye coordination can also contribute to digital eye strain.
o Today’s electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, LED monitors and even flat screen
TVs, all give off high-energy, short-wavelength, blue and violet light. These rays may affect vision
and even age the eyes.
o Early research shows that overexposure to blue light could contribute to eye strain and discomfort
and may lead to serious conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can
cause blindness.
III.
To prevent or reduce eye and vision problems associated with digital eye strain and exposure to
blue light, the AOA recommends the following:
o Take frequent breaks. The AOA recommends following the 20-20-20 rule – take a 20-second
break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
o Check the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches
below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe
distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
o Check for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible
when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent
glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or
changing its background color.
o Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage
light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give
flexible control of room lighting.
o Adjust font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your
eyes when reading.
o Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the
front surface of the eye moist.
o Visit your eye doctor. In some cases, children who don’t wear eyeglasses may benefit from
glasses prescribed specifically for computer use. And, children who already wear glasses may
find their current prescription doesn’t provide optimal vision for viewing a computer screen.
IV.
Comprehensive eye exams by an optometrist are essential in identifying the signs and symptoms
associated with digital eye strain and other vision problems.
o Comprehensive eye exams can detect problems that a simple school screening can miss, such
as eye coordination, lazy eye, as well as nearsightedness and farsightedness. Vision screenings
are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.
o The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely it is that treatment will be
successful. The AOA recommends children have an eye exam by an optometrist soon after six
months of age and before age three and every year thereafter.
o Children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye exams thanks to the Pediatric
Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act, through age 18.
o In between visits to the eye doctor, parents should keep a watchful eye out for some of the more
prevalent signs that a child’s vision may be impaired. The AOA recommends parents contact their
doctor of optometry if their child frequently:
 Squints while reading or watching television
 Turns or tilts head or covers an eye
 Consistently performs below potential or struggles to complete homework
 Has behavioral problems
o To find an optometrist in your area and schedule a comprehensive eye exam, use the AOA’s
online doctor locator at aoa.org.
About the American Eye-Q® survey:
The ninth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland
Associates (PSB). From March 20-25, 2014, PSB conducted 1,000 online interviews among Americans 18 years and older
who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. general population. (Margin of error is plus or minus 3.10
percentage points at a 95% confidence level)
About the Children’s Omnibus survey:
The children’s Omnibus survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
(PSB). From March 24-31, 2014, PSB conducted 200 online interviews from March 24-31, 2014 with children ages 10 to 17.
(Margin of error is plus or minus 6.93 percentage points at a 95% confidence level)
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