These are special times.
Not only is there fear, worry and uncertainty, but life has become somewhat more challenging too when it comes to our voluntary or involuntary quarantine (depending on where you live), and it can take its toll. I am used to working from home, so that doesn’t change too much. But with the kids at home – things are surely different. Although not the biggest of our problems right now, this brings up a new phenomenon: how to stay healthy in a time of a (partial) lockdown: the potential of an increase in ‘quarantine-myopia’.
It’s not the DIGITAL part of the Device
Relating to that (quarantine-myopia): the familiar 20-20-2 rule has been put in a whole new perspective. The advice on digital device usage and other near work dictates that after 20 minutes of near work, at least 20 seconds breaks are needed to give the eyes a bit of a rest. This means looking in distance – and not reading a book. A persistent misconception about myopia development and near work is that it is the digital device that does the harm. As far as we know, it is not the digital part of the device – it is the near proximity of the device to the eyes that can cause developmental myopia in predisposed children. The only difference is that kids typically do not read books for prolonged periods of time, while watching Netflix can be done for hours. Don’t let them watch on a smartphone at 10cm, as you see children do in restaurants these days. Or did, I should say – as all restaurants are closed of course. Hard to get used to that one.
’20 Second Happy Birthday Song’
Corona adds a new dimension to the ‘20’ rule. Needless to say, washing your hands provides protection against coronavirus and other pathogens. But you do need to scrub with soap for 20 seconds to remove those pathogens according to the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and hand-washing experts. National Public Radio (NPR) in the US has launched a corona-editorial titled ‘My Hand-Washing Song: Readers Offer Lyrics For A 20-Second Scrub’. The simplest advice is singing "Happy Birthday" twice to time your handwashing. Or pick your own song: get your digital device out and sing with your favorite song – out loud. This also helps staying positive and healthy in quarantine-times. We can do the same for the 20 second visual break.
We Have Seen the Light on Outdoor Light
Back to the 20-20-2 rule: the ‘2’ stand for two hours outdoor a day. That is challenging in these times. Experts have been pretty clear on myopia development, and that is that ‘something happens’ when kids are more outdoors. It’s not the exercise, not physical or social: it is the outdoor light. I think we have seen the light on that one. So, here is my (digital) advice:
make sure we get enough outdoor light. For myopia, for general health and for a dopamine shot at the same time: make sure we all consume enough outdoor light in these times, if possible.
There is no way to mimic ‘outdoor light’ with indoor light, no matter how bright we set our room lights. Good thing is, it takes away from digital device time at the same time.
This series Eef@online series is kindly supported by an educational grant from Contamac