How Screen Time May Be Affecting Your Eyes

Posted at 1:37 PM on Mar 7, 2024

Northwest Family Clinic –  Screen Time May Be Affecting Your Eyes

In the digital era, screens have become an inseparable part of our lives. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, we are constantly interacting with digital devices such as smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions. While these devices have undoubtedly made our lives easier and more connected, they have come with some pretty significant health consequences, eye strain being just one of many. Let’s shed some light on how screen time may be affecting your eyes and what steps you can take to protect them.

Understanding Digital Eye Strain

When we stare at digital screens too often or for too long we can experience Digital Eye Strain, also known as Computer Vision Syndrome. This is caused by focusing on a computer or other display device for uninterrupted periods of time. As a result we don’t blink as much, this leads to issues such as headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain, and eye strain. These symptoms are often intensified by poor lighting, glare on a digital screen, improper viewing distances, poor posture, high screen brightness and uncorrected vision problems.

Blue Light Exposure

Digital screens emit blue light which plays a vital role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle, meaning exposure to blue light may adversely affect your sleep quality. More research is needed, but long term effects of blue light may be correlated to damage to the retina over time.

Tips for Protecting Your Eyes

The best way to protect your eyes from digital eye strain is to take screen breaks like following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This simple practice can help reduce eye strain by allowing your eyes to rest and refocus. Additionally, you can set time throughout the day in which screens are off limits. This generally should always be the case 2 hours prior to bedtime so your sleep pattern is not interrupted by the blue light.

Screen Time May Be Affecting Your Eyes - Wearing Glasses

Other things to consider to protect your eyes from screen strain include:

  • Work in well-lit areas to reduce glare and eye strain. Consider using an anti-glare screen on your device if you're experiencing glare.
  • Increase the contrast on your screen, adjust the brightness to be in harmony with your surroundings, and increase text size to make reading easier on your eyes.
  • Consciously blink more often. Remember to blink more frequently to keep your eyes moist and comfortable.
  • Your screen should be about an arm's length away, with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. This positioning helps reduce strain on your eyes and neck.
  • Use glasses specifically designed for computer use. These can include features like anti-glare coatings and blue light filters.
  • Regular eye exams.

Eye Health is Important for Overall Health

While many of us strive to eat better and exercise more to live a healthier life, we can't forget about the importance of other parts of our overall health, like our eyes. Your eye health is paramount, and taking care of your eyes today ensures a clearer tomorrow. If you experience persistent eye discomfort or vision problems, be sure to consult your doctor and they can refer you to an eye care provider if needed.