Eye-Friendly Activities for Kids

March 26, 2020

With children unexpectedly home from school and daycare, it can be difficult to keep them occupied. Many parents resort to electronics (tv, tablet, phone, etc.) to keep the children entertained for hours. However, prolonged use of digital screens has been shown to cause headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, and other symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. There are mixed reviews on “how much screen time is too much.” Some associations recommend less than two hours per day, while others suggest the parents set individual, “reasonable” limits and adhere to them.

It is very important to limit screen time and promote other forms of entertainment for children.
The following activities are eye-friendly and beneficial to visual development.


1. Get outside and play!

This is the most important activity you can encourage your children to do. There are countless studies demonstrating the effect of outdoors on eye development. The risk and severity of myopia (nearsightedness) in children decreases with increased time regularly spent outdoors.1 Not only is playing outside beneficial for the eyes, but it also helps combat obesity in children. Let the kids burn off some energy! When bedtime rolls around, you’ll be glad everyone in the house is ready to sleep.


2. Challenge your kids to a game of “Memory”

If you don’t have a set of Memory cards, have your kids make their own! The object of the game is to match pairs of cards by only flipping two cards over at a time. This uses the visual perception skill of visual memory. It requires recalling image and spatial characteristics using only visual information, while testing short-term memory. Another aspect of visual memory is visualization, recalling mental images, which is necessary to succeed in the game.


3. Play I-Spy (or a variation of it)

This can be performed outside, inside the house, or using an I-Spy book. Searching for specific colors or items forces the eyes to search the surroundings. These eye movements are called saccades, and they are especially important for reading. I-Spy also uses the visual perception skill of visual figure-ground. This is the ability to pick out specific details or features among the distractions of the background. Word searches and jigsaw puzzles utilize visual figure-ground too.


4. Complete a difficult maze

In order to complete a maze, the visual perception skill of visual-motor integration (VMI) must be used. VMI activities strengthen the connection between the eyes, brain, and hands, which is very similar to eye-hand coordination. A maze forces the eyes to visually guide the fine motor skills of the hand to complete a task. KrazyDad has lots of fun mazes you can print from your computer at home! Other VMI games include passing a ball outside, playing corn hole or a beanbag toss game, and hitting balloons in the air to keep them from touching the ground.


5. Work on handwriting

Surprisingly, handwriting is a necessary skill that uses VMI without us even realizing it. The eyes guide the hand to precisely write letters and keep the letters in a straight line. Younger children can practice writing the alphabet and small words, while the more advanced writers can create a story to share with the family.



Stay safe and healthy!



  1. Lingham, G., et al. How does spending time outdoors protect against myopia? A review. Br J Ophthalmol. Published online first: 13 Nov. 2019. doi: 10.1136/bjophthalmol-2019-314675