Have you been using screens a lot more during lockdown?
If you feel that you spend too much time staring at screens (especially your phone and laptop), then you you’re not alone. No doubt you’ve also found that this problem has been exacerbated but the various lockdowns we’ve lived through.
Optometrists are increasingly concerned that excessive screen time could be affecting our eye health causing Digital Eye Strain (DES).
Most device screens emit unnaturally high levels of blue light, and exposure to a lot of blue light can negatively impact your eye health in various ways. Symptoms of digital eye strain can involve reduced blinking (which leads to dry, ‘scratchy’ eyes as tears evaporate) and squinting (which can affect vision quality). Blue light has also been linked to eye surface toxicity and infections.
There is also some evidence to suggest that long-term exposure to high levels of blue light could increase your risk of developing diseases of the retina like macular degeneration or atrophy of the retina.
Take regular breaks
Following the 20/20/20 rule – very 20 minutes, spend 20 minutes looking for something about 20 feet (6metres away) – set a timer if you’re worried you may forget
Adjusting the brightness settings on your screen(s)
Changing your workstation to improve your posture
Closing or resting your eyes when not reading
Practicing regular deep blinking to promote eye hydration
Using artificial tears as well
Having an eye test and asking your optometrist for advice
Investing in blue light control lenses
Seeking your optometrist’s advice if you have dry eye symptoms
Today’s young people love their screens, as any parent will tell you. Younger eyes are actually at greater risk, as they still have very clear lenses which filter out very few light rays. Also, unlike some adults, modern kids have literally grown up with screens. This means that over the course of their lifetimes, their eyes could potentially receive decades of extra blue light. Not enough research has been done in this area, but there are reasons to be concerned about this.