Too Much Screen Time Can Cause
Digital Eye Strain
There has been an increasing concern in the effect of screens like mobile phones, tablets, and computers to the eyes. Too much screen time is believed to be the reason why a lot of adults and even children are having all sorts of eye problems relating to Digital Eye Strain. There are lots of discussions concerning this issue and to date, several articles confirm the bad effects of too much screen time. However, there are also articles that consider the link between screen time and eye problems as a myth. In this article, we’ll figure out how exactly too much screen time can affect the eyes of both children and adults based on research and studies.
How a Child’s Eyes Can Be Affected by Too Much Screen Time
According to ophthalmologists and physicians specializing in eye care, there’s a marked increase in the number of children who are suffering from dry eye, eye strain, and other vision-related problems due to too much screen time. This is especially true in Asian children since around 90% of teens and children in Asia are diagnosed with nearsightedness. Children and teens are prone to getting digital eye strain due to the long period usage of digital devices. In fact, even toddlers who are between 1-3 years old are already using tablets to watch their favorite cartoons and play games created for their age range.
Children who are spending too much time on digital screens are likely to experience eye strain, dry eye, blurry vision, and headaches. Although permanent damage can be prevented, parents must help children develop good reading and viewing habits while they’re still young. With these measures considered, the effects of too much screen time can still be treated.
Eye Problems in Adults
Adults, especially those who use computers all day for work, are prone to eye problems. Working for hours in front of a computer with minimal breaks can lead to several vision-related problems. Eye strain can also be worse if the individual spends too much time in front of digital screens and if it’s ‘near-work’ or looking at digital screens up close.
Blue Light and How It Causes Digital Eye Strain
Most electronic devices transmit blue light which is found to be toxic to our specialized cells. These cells, known as photoreceptors located in the retina, are the ones responsible for our vision. According to recent research from the University of Toledo, blue light is directly linked to macular degeneration which is the major cause of vision loss around the world. Macular degeneration is the result of the death of our photoreceptor cells. In short, blue light coming from digital screens damages the eye’s retina. The damage is also permanent since once the specialized cells in the retina die; they won’t be able to regenerate. In connection with that, studies suggest that too much exposure to the blue light can cause long term damage to our eyes.
What’s the problem with blue light?
Exposure to blue light can result in the following vision-related problems: cataract, eye strain, and AMD. Being exposed to blue light from digital screens may cause sleep problems like poor sleep quality, daytime fatigue, and difficulty in falling asleep.
The Computer Vision Syndrome
The Computer Vision Syndrome or more commonly known as the Digital Eye Strain pertains to a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged exposure to digital screens.
Digital Eye Strain is manifested in any of the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
The causes behind digital eye strain symptoms are these trigger factors:
- Glare on digital screens
- Improper viewing distances
- Poor lighting
- Poor seating posture
- Vision problems that are uncorrected
- It could also be a combination of these factors.
How It is Diagnosed?
If an individual is at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome:
- The patient’s history will be checked to determine what causes the symptoms he’s currently experiencing. It could be due to other health issues and not from too much screen time. It could also come from taking some medications and the environment he’s currently in.
- Refraction will also be done to know the appropriate lens power that the individual needs on order to compensate or fix any refractive errors like astigmatism, farsightedness, or nearsightedness.
- Visual acuity measurements will also be taken to determine the extent of the effect on his vision.
- How the eyes focus, work, and move together will also be tested to look for possible eyesight problems.
How It Can Be Treated
Here are some ways to treat an individual Computer Vision Syndrome:
- Eyecare – Individuals diagnosed with Computer Vision Syndrome may be prescribed to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses that are suitable for doing computer work. Some might even be advised to take different forms of vision therapy to treat specific eye problems.
- Changes in viewing habits – The following must be done by the individual suffering from Digital Eye Strain: observe proper sitting posture, improve the lighting conditions, the monitor should be properly positioned, take rest breaks, and use a comfortable chair.
General Tips to Avoid Eye Damage from Digital Screens
- The 20-20-20 rule is the easiest way to avoid eye damage from too much screen time. Individuals should take a 20-second break to shift your view into something that’s 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- Adjust the contrast and brightness settings of computers, smartphones, and tablets. Adjustment to make is according to what feels most comfortable to the eyes of the individual.
- Wear glasses that are specifically created to block blue light emitted from screens.
- Children should be taught to hold or view tablets or smartphones around 18 to 24 inches away.
- Get an eye exam regularly so if ever you develop a vision-related problem. It will be diagnosed early and treated right away.
- Parents should set a limit to the number of hours that children can use tablets or smartphones. Babies below 2 years old shouldn’t be allowed to use digital devices at all except for video calling. For children aged two to five years old, they should be allowed to access digital media for up to one hour per day only.
Do the Eye Detox!
For a complete eye detox, people who are suffering from digital eye strain or those who are prone to it should regularly take blueberry and maqui berry supplements. Blueberry has carrotenes which are responsible for nourishing the eyes while maqui berry is packed with antioxidants to prevent cell damage.
Take some time OFF from digital devices and let the eyes rest a couple of hours before bedtime.