April 08, 2016 / James Knowles
While many of us spend a large part of our day staring at smartphones, tablets, e-readers and computer screens, most people probably aren’t aware of the effect it is having on our eyes. In fact, it’s estimated that we spend an average of six hours per day in front of one digital screen or another! A recent study conducted by The Vision Council found that as a result of the increased exposure to digital screens, 65 percent of American adults are reported having symptoms of digital eye strain. Furthermore, with children adopting technology at an accelerated rate, the prevalence of these eye health issues will only increase.
So what is digital eye strain?
Digital eye strain is the physical discomfort felt after prolonged exposure to digital screens and can range from dry eyes and headaches to blurry vision and permanent vision damage. Most people start to feel the initial effects after 2 consecutive hours staring at a screen from a close, to medium distance. Compounding this issue is another phenomenon brought on by the proliferation of digital screens called blue light. Blue Light is emitted from LED screens such as your smartphones, tablets, flat screen TV’s and computer screens, and this high energy light has been shown to actually damage our eye’s retinas as well as disrupt our natural sleep cycles known as the circadian rhythm.
How can I prevent it?
While the danger to our eye health is very real, there are some easy steps you can take to help prevent it. Here are some useful tips to maintain your eye health:
The 20-20-20 Rule
Your eyes are muscles and they need exercise too. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20 second break and look at something that is 20 feet away. This will reduce “focus fatigue” and keeps your eyes healthy.
Don’t forget to blink
That’s right, keep those eyes hydrated. Our blink rate goes down by up to 30 percent when we stare at a screen.
Keep your distance
It’s best to keep any digital screen at least 20 inches away from your eyes to prevent any straining.
It’s all about the lighting
Not only is it important to make sure your screen brightness is set properly, but also the lighting around you. Too much light can cause glare while not enough lighting in the room can cause your eyes to strain when staring at the bright screen.
Ditch the digital devices before bed
If you’re the type to lie down and use your phone or tablet before going to bed, you may want to change that habit. Using a digital device within an hour of falling asleep doubles your exposure to blue light as well as your risk of digital eye strain.
To learn more about digital eye strain and blue light exposure, you can read The Vision Council’s 2016 Digital Eye Strain report, Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma.
Category: Physical Health