iStrain: Is screen-time affecting your health? 29 Aug, 2016
Whether it’s our iPhone obsession, or skipping a lunch-break to shop online, new research shows we’re spending up to 7 hours a day hooked up to a screen. The impact of screen time on eye health shouldn’t be ignored, but we can take simple steps to reduce the dangers.
If you spend two or more consecutive hours in front of a digital media screen daily, you are at risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). CVS is not one specific eye problem rather it encompasses a whole range of eye strain and physical pain experienced by computer, tablet and phone users.
Symptoms can include blurred vision, eye irritation, double vision, dry or red eyes, neck or back pain and headaches.
CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries at work in that it can get worse the longer you continue the activity over time.
Strain occurs for a variety of reasons, for example digital media screens being held close to the eyes or at set distances for extended periods. Some people fail to blink their eyes regularly when using iPads or other tablets, which can make eyes dry and irritated, while the lighting and flicker of screens also present issues.
“Computers in themselves do not cause any damage to your eyes but computer use is very visually demanding and will highlight any existing visual deficits. If these are not discovered and corrected they can lead to longer term issues,” explains Vanessa Forbes from EyeQ Optometrists.
Symptoms can be alleviated by making changes such as improving your posture, resting your eyes every fifteen minutes or so or adjusting the room lighting and screen brightness.
“An optometrist can work with you to take a holistic look at your individual situation. They’ll assess your screen needs, your eye focus and alignment and your binocular vision system,” says Vanessa. “Then we can look at the right solution for you. No one is going to stop using screens, we just need to make sure people are using them with optimal health in mind.”
Solutions may include a range of things from eye drops or glasses to vision therapy and hygiene advice.
Simple steps to reduce the dangers:
- Keep children’s recreational screen time to under two hours a day.
- Cut the glare on computer screens with filters and good lighting.
- Give your eyes a break. Look away from the screen every 20 minutes. Scan the room for about 20 seconds to rest your eyes.
If you’re noticing tired or sore eyes, headaches, or just feeling generally uncomfortable after using your computer, book an appointment at your local EyeQ Optometrists is recommended. We will assess how well your eyes and visual system handle prolonged periods of computer use and make recommendations to improve your comfort and performance at work.