Modern lifestyles and working practices mean hours looking at screens. Work, communication, study and entertainment are all heavily reliant on screentime. This can, unfortunately, harm eye health.
The Effects of Prolonged Screentime
Studies have shown that computer vision syndrome is a growing problem for people of all ages around the world.
Health problems resulting from too much time looking at monitors, smartphones and tablets include eye strain, headaches and blurry vision.
Looking at the screen introduces glare which can cause fatigue and strain. We also tend to blink less often when reading or working, which can dry our eyes out too much. Thankfully, some things can be done to reduce the risks.
How to Minimise Harm from Screens
Here are some steps everyone can take to lessen the harmful effects of too much time spent looking at screens:
- Booking An Eye Test
Going in for a professional eye test will help to clarify any questions about eye health you may have. If you require corrective lenses, an optician will ensure you have the correct specification of prescription glasses. Certain glasses lenses can be applied with an anti-glare to reduce the negative effects of screentime.
- The 20-20-20 Rule
This easy to remember health directive goes like this: for every 20 minutes spent looking at the screen, take 20 seconds to look at least 20 feet in the distance. It gives your eyes a break and refocuses them away from the screen for a healthy pause from screen glare.
- Be Aware of Posture
When working at a desk it is all too easy to slump forward, especially at the end of a long say. This should be avoided if at all possible. A bad posture puts pressure on the body and will also tire the eyes. The aim should be to sit up straight in the chair with the computer screen around 20 to 24 inches away from you.
- Take Breaks Often
Many health experts advise taking a 10-minute break for every hour worked. These breaks can offer the chance to get up, walk around and stretch. This will help to reduce the build-up of pressure on the neck, back and spine. The eyes will also benefit from a more extensive break to refocus and look around away from the screen.
- Spend Time Outside
The best exercise for the eyes, like most things, can be found outside. Time away from digital screens, plus a greater chance of surveying scenes in wide perspectives, offers a healthy optical workout. This will reduce the negative effects of too much screen time and the potential for strain.
- Blink More
If you are looking at a screen when working, reading or talking to friends and colleagues, it is likely that you are not blinking enough. Taking the time to blink more mindfully will help to keep the eyes hydrated and moistened.
Dry eye symptoms caused by not blinking enough can be a painful condition. A simple way to minimise the potential for dry eye is to blink 10 times every 20 minutes. This will reduce the risk of tears evaporating in the eye too quickly, which leads to dry eye.
- Modify Lighting
Improvements to interior lighting can help reduce eye problems. Natural lighting from windows should ideally be used in place of artificial lighting. The computer desk is best positioned to the side of a window, rather than in front of or behind them. If artificial lighting is needed, then a form of ‘soft’ LED lighting is the best option for reducing glare.
For many of us, time spent looking at screens is an unavoidable feature of life. However, by following sensible guidelines we can all minimise the harmful effects of prolonged screentime.