Is Screen Time Hurting Your Eyes?
Access to technology has proven to be one of the greatest conveniences of our time. Although we rarely think about it beyond the positive contributions it makes to our lives, our constant and immediate access to digital devices can have a negative impact on our eyes.
Screen time, or the amount of time spent using devices such as smartphones, computers, televisions, and video games, can eventually take a toll on your eyesight.
Whether you are continually focused on a screen for work or for play, start paying attention to some common conditions that may occur as a result of excessive use.
Is Screen Time Hurting Your Eyes?
We’ve listed five common conditions below.
Dryness can be caused by a lack of blinking during screen time. During normal periods, a blinking action helps to keep eyes lubricated. Staring at a screen, however, will typically lead to a more wide-eyed state and less blinking.
Tearing is a common reflex response to dryness. In this case, the eyes automatically produce tears in order to fight excessive dryness.
3. Blurred Vision
The more you squint to accommodate small screens like those on phones and tablets, the more stress that is placed on your eyes. That stress can lead to a decrease in the sharpness of your vision and the inability to see fine details.
4. Eye Strain
Symptoms of eye strain may be sore, tired, burning, or itching eyes. You may also experience increased sensitivity to light, feel like you cannot keep your eyes open, or have a tough time concentrating.
5. Sleep Suppression
Although this is not a direct eye ailment, screen time may often cause false alertness and wakefulness. This may disrupt sleep patterns and lead to further eye strain.
These symptoms may not be permanent or even something that you become aware of right away, but with prolonged exposure to digital screens, any of them can lead to increased discomfort, headaches, and stress.
Though it may not be possible to completely alleviate screen time, you can take some steps to lessen its effect on your eyes.
- Try to adopt the 20/20/20 screen time rule. It works like this: After every 20 minutes, you spend looking at a screen, shift your focus to another object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. That will give your eyes a rest between screen sessions.
- If the glare from your computer is bothering your eyes, don’t ignore it. Instead, consider using a matte screen filter. Another option is anti-reflective lenses for your eyeglasses.
- Pay attention to whether the air in your immediate environment is drying. If it is, placing a humidifier close to your work area, or the area in which you have most of your screen time, to decrease dryness.
- If having a humidifier nearby is not an option, try artificial tears to relieve dryness.
- Remind yourself to blink! If you’ve been at the screen for a while, take a blink break.
- Put away your computers and tablets at least one hour before bedtime. Give your body the opportunity to fall into a natural sleep pattern.
Most of us can’t avoid screen time, not even for a day. But we can be proactive about our eye health and take the necessary precautions to keep our eyes protected.
If you think screen time has had an impact on your eyesight and you need a professional evaluation, feel free to call The Eye Center in Huntsville and Madison, Alabama at 256-705-3937 to schedule an appointment.