Do you find yourself glued to one or the other digital screen? Are you experiencing eye pain, fatigue, sudden blurring of vision, headache, irritation, dry eye, or itching? Well, if your answer is yes to any of these questions you might be facing digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.
Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome in simple terms is a series of eye-related problems you face due to prolonged use of any digital screen.
While many concerns have come to light since our world was turned upside down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has shifted our real world into the virtual world causing huge adverse effects on our eye health. Thus it is very important to focus our attention on the importance of eye health and how to minimize the eye strain caused by screen time.
We’ve found ourselves living in the prime of the digital age, navigating Zoom meetings for school courses, never-ending emails for work, and relying on technology more than ever. While we are fortunate to maintain a sense of normalcy by using online platforms, we may be sightless when it comes to the impact it’s having on our eyes.
Studies have shown that the average screen time among people pre-covid to post covid has increased from 4 hours/day to 10 hours/ day. Some studies also show how we might be spending more time viewing a screen than sleeping. Dependence on digital devices and its impact on eye health has become a worldwide problem.
Why is screen time bad for eyes?
According to the American Academy of Optometry, “screen time has led to an increase in complaints of eye strain and dry eye.” Our eyes toggle between multiple screens daily, from a smart phone to a laptop and back again, our vision is put to the ultimate test. Increase use of screentime also tends to increase the progression of myopia or nearsightedness.
While using screens, certain actions such as leaning in too close to read information or sitting too close in proximity, reduced blinking rate causes the eyes to feel unrelaxed, dried, and exhausted. Screen time does not only impact eyes, but it also has lots of adverse affect on your brain and body. Along with eye problem you also experience neck and back pain, blue light emission is known to disrupt our circadian rhythms at night making it difficult for people to fall asleep.
How much screen time healthy for eyes?
Considering that online tasks are inevitable, it can be daunting to keep eye health as a priority. It is very important to limit the screen use as much as possible. There is no one size fit all when it comes to how much screen time is healthy for your eyes. Kids should limit their screen time only for educational purposes as much as possible with a limited amount of recreational screen time. Same restrictions apply for adults as well. They need to limit their use post work hours and try to more outdoor activities.
Ways to prevent digital eye strain:
There are simple and straightforward steps that can be taken to reduce eye strain and dryness caused by increased use of screen time. The American Optometric Association has outlined ways to combat “Computer Vision Syndrome / Digital Eye strain.”
Here are some simple steps that you can follow to lessen the impact screen time has on your eyes:
- Computer screens should be viewed 15 to 20 degrees below your eye level
- Consider reducing screen glare from windows or any surfaces that can increase eye strains.
- Follow 20-20-20 rule : take a 20 second break after every 20 minutes of screen time and look at something 20ft away. This helps the eye muscles to relax
- Wear an anti-glare or blue light filter glasses when working long hours in front of screens.
- Remember to stare less and blink more often.
- Use over the counter lubricating eye drops for mild – moderate dry eye symptoms, Lubricating eye drops help to keep your eyes moist and it reduces the discomfort.
- Switch between contact lenses and glasses. With reduce blink rate and increase screen time, one might experience more dry eye symptoms with contact lenses as they tend to dry up. It is good practice to give your eyes some break from contact lenses and wear glasses.
- Turn on the Night light mode or reduce the brightness on your smartphones and laptops during night to reduce the emission of blue light from the screen.
- Regular eye exams are very important to help you provide the right guidances to reduce, manage and treat any of your eye problems caused due to increase of screen time.
Following good “screen etiquette” can help you conquer the digital age without wreaking havoc on your eyes.
There’s a chance you’re already feeling the side effects of excessive screen time.
Take our complimentary dry eye quiz to see if your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe or our complimentary vision test to see if your vision is getting blur and you might be due for updating your prescription or another eye exam .
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