Today, when pretty much everything is mobile and digitalized, we spend most of our time in front of screens. Especially in the current situation with a world pandemic going on and ‘work from home’ orders almost everyone is taking classes online or working online. This has escalated our screen time and our eyes are paying the price for that. And, this screen time does not depend on the average time you spend on your phone. Consider all the screens you view daily from desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets to a gaming system, LED TV, and many others.
According to the Washington Post,
“The average American clocks 444 minutes of screen time (7.4 hours), compared to 317 minutes for Italians and 540 minutes for Indonesians. It’s easy to see that dependence on digital services is a worldwide problem.”
More than 50 percent of people who work in front of a screen face a condition called ‘digital eye strain’. This condition presents with the symptoms of eye fatigue, red eyes, itching, dryness of eyes, and even headaches which could be severe. Digital devices emit high energy visible light or ‘blue light’. Blue light has a wavelength of 380nm to 500nm which is why it has one of the shortest but highest energy wavelengths that the human eye can perceive. These waves penetrate deep into the eyes and cause a glaring effect which further results in irritation and discomfort of the eyes i.e. digital eye strain. Although these symptoms can be treated, long term damage to eyes and vision is still a threat.
Other than this, some steps can be followed to minimize the chances of long term eye damage and overall reduces the chances and symptoms of digital eye strain. These steps usually consist of adjustments in daily habits and the environment. But first and foremost, you should visit an eye doctor and go through a detailed eye exam to rule out any other underlying cause of your symptoms. Once you have established the fact that your symptoms are due to digital eye strain or even if you don’t have any symptoms but are at risk of developing the condition then you can follow the following steps:
– Adjust the light when reading, watching television, or using some form of a digital screen. Do not use a dim light in such settings.
– Take occasional breaks and give some time for rest to your eyes by looking away from the digital screen.
– Limit your screen time and do not use digital devices if it is unnecessary.
– If you are experiencing dryness of eyes then use artificial tears regularly, multiple times a day.
– Using a humidifier and improving the air quality of your space can also help with dry eyes.
– If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses then choose the right pair of eyewear. You can also ask your optometrist for lens coatings and tints that can help in such a situation.
– Blink often to refresh your eyes.
– Follow the 20-20-20 rule, every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
– Adjust your screen settings like the large fonts and comfortable contrast and brightness levels for your comfort.
– Omega 3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oil are also known to improve vision.