Whether students are attending class in person, virtually or a hybrid version of both, there’s one thing everyone has in common: a lot more education will be happening digitally. Screens are a valuable tool in education, but they also can have health implications, including stress on the eyes.
Students of all ages are spending more time on computers, tablets and phone screens in general, but COVID-19 has accelerated this use. In recent months, screen time for kids has increased by 500% as virtual learning was introduced and parents continue to work from home. This is having a direct impact on eye health.
Fortunately, there are simple ways families can support eye health and position students for success no matter what school shapes up to be this year:
Take breaks and set limits
Have a family meeting to get everyone on board for following the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes you are using a screen you need to take at least 20 seconds to look away at something that is at least 20 feet away. This allows the eyes to rest and refocus, helping to prevent strain. If everyone is working at the same time in the house, you could ring a bell or play a song at these intervals as an eye rest reminder.
In addition to these mini-breaks, it’s important to take larger breaks to more thoroughly relieve eyes. This is especially important for children’s eyes that are still growing. For every hour working or playing on a screen, take a 5- to 10-minute break to leave the area and let the eyes rest. Perhaps take a walk or grab a snack before returning to studies.
Wear blue light blocking glasses
The blue light emitted from digital screens can be particularly harsh on eyes, plus it can have a negative impact on sleep patterns. The brain registers blue light as daytime, so it’s especially important to be aware of screen time before bed. Shut off screens at least an hour before bedtime to ensure kids fall to sleep efficiently and get deep, restorative rest.
Beyond limiting evening screen time, you can help filter harsh lights with blue light blocking glasses. These are sometimes called computer glasses because they have no prescription but look like normal glasses. Strive to have students always wear these glasses while using a device. If that’s not possible, research blue light-blocking software and apps.
Eat for eye health
What you eat can help support eye health by providing the body essential nutrients to support vision like lutein. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in shielding eyes from damaging light. Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner shares nutritious foods that can help boost eye health amid virtual learning:
Green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach are high in lutein content, as are Eggland’s Best eggs, which contain 38% more lutein compared to ordinary eggs. Lutein found in eggs is also more easily absorbed by the body than leafy greens. Just remember to eat the whole egg since lutein is found in the egg yolk.
In addition to lutein, Eggland’s Best eggs contain a variety of important micronutrients that support immune health. With six times more vitamin D, 10 times more vitamin E, and more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, Eggland’s Best eggs are a perfect ingredient to optimize immune health and incorporate into your family’s diet as you prepare for back to school.
Try new recipes that contain these ingredients and others that help support vision wellness. With both a leafy vegetable and nutrient-rich Eggland’s Best eggs, this is a delicious option you can try at home:
5 Eggland’s Best eggs
1/4 cup fat-free half & half
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup brie cheese, shredded
1/4 small onion, shredded
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed & diced
4 slices turkey bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 refrigerated pie crusts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk eggs together with milk, half & half, salt & pepper; set aside.
In a small skillet over medium heat, cook turkey bacon slices until crispy; drain, cool, and dice or crumble into small pieces and set aside.
Wash spinach well and pat dry; chop into small pieces and set aside.
Using a handheld grater, grate onion and brie cheese.
Add spinach, bacon, onion and brie to egg mixture and blend well.
Roll out refrigerated pie crust and cut in 3 inch circles; line muffin tins with pie crust.
Spoon egg mixture into each muffin cup, filling 3/4 full; place in oven and cook for 25 minutes or until eggs are set.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: You may have extra egg mixture depending on how high the muffin tins are filled. Repeat steps above to create more quiches to finish off egg mixture.