Individuals who use digital devices like smart phones, personal computers, video games and other devices are usually exposed to various problems ranging from digital eye strain to various eye diseases like macular degeneration due to prolonged use of these devices.
What is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use. A variety of electronic devices can cause digital eye strain, including televisions, desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and gaming systems, especially when they are used simultaneously or when switching repeatedly from one device to another.
Digital Eye Strain can cause signs and symptoms like: Red, dry or irritated eyes
Blurred vision, Eye fatigue, Back, neck and shoulder pain, Headaches
Prolonged exposure to light rays especially blue light can cause serious damage in the eyes.
However, the blue light in particular may be toxic for your eyes and it’s not a secret that blue light destroys our vision by damaging the eye’s retina which is the most sensitive part of the eye responsible for vision.
It has been discovered that blue light emitted from your digital devices has a potential to lead to macular degeneration (macular is the part of the retina specially responsible for central vision)
Macular degeneration can occur when the photoreceptor cells that capture visual images and signal them to the brain using a molecule known as retinal are destroyed by the prolonged exposure to blue light.
Retinal, which is produced by the eye, is triggered by blue light and causes various chemical reactions. These reactions within the eye can be poisonous to the photoreceptor cell molecules rendering them damaged.
When these photoreceptor cells die, there’s no regeneration.
Blue light is very toxic to the eye because compared to other visible colors of light, blue has a shorter wavelenght and therefore it emits more energy.
Too much screen time can wreck your eyes, starting from prolonged exposure to the light and our posture while using these digital devices.
Now you know the implications of prolonged exposure to your digital devices without proper eye protection. I can’t tell you not to use your digital devices but I can give you some tips on how to protect your eyes and maintain good posture while using your digital devices.
1. Get a comprehensive eye examination
2. Blink frequently
3. Give your eyes a break
4. Clean your digital device screen
5. Adjust your brightness
6. Adjust your text size and contrast
7. Hold your smart phone farther away
8. Consider computer eye wear
9. Minimize Glare
1. GET A COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAMINATION
Visiting an optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination is one of the things that should be done in order to avoid computer related problems. You should visit regularly and when you do tell your doctor everything concerning your work place, your digital devices so that the doctor can counsel you on what to do and what not to do to prevent eye damage resulting from your digital devices. If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, schedule a visit with an eye doctor near you.
2. BLINK FREQUENTLY
Blink, blink, blink! This cannot be over emphasized. Individuals tend to blink less while using their digital devices, but this is very harmful to the eyes because reduced blinking can lead to dryness of the eye, and this can cause various symptoms like itching, pain, blurry vision, tired eyes .etc. Blinking is very important when working at a computer; blinking moistens your eyes to prevent dryness and irritation. Tears coating the eyes tend to evaporate during long exposure to digital devices when blink rate is reduced.
However, To reduce your risk of dry eyes during computer use, try this exercise: Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times by closing your eyes as if falling asleep (very slowly). This will help rewet your eyes.
3. GIVE YOUR EYES A BREAK
Give your eyes a break by practicing this rule called the “20-20-20 RULE”.
This simply means that every 20 minutes look at an object 20 meters away for 20 seconds while using your digital device.Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue . This will help reduce symptoms associated with digital eye strain which presents with eye pain, itching, dryness of the eye, tired eyes, back/eye pain.
4. CLEAN YOUR SCREEN
This is to avoid glare that can occur when your screen is smudgy and dirty. Clean your screen regularly so that the dirt won’t cast shadows That can equally lead to discomfort and annoying glare
5. ADJUST YOUR BRIGHTNESS
Adjust the brightness of the digital device so that it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your environment. Your device brightness shouldn’t be as bright as a light source, and it shouldn’t be too dull or too dark in order to avoid eye strain and discomfort.
6. ADJUST YOUR TEXT SIZE AND BRIGHTNESS
Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially before exposing your eyes for a long period of time. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
7. HOLD YOUR SMART PHONE FARTHER AWAY
Do not place your smart phone too close to your eyes, and endeavour to place it at a lower angle rather than on the same angle with your eyes. While using a computer it is recommended you sit across the computer at a distance of an arm’s length (Like you’re doing a high five with your computer screen) to prevent discomfort, neck/back pain.
8. CONSIDER COMPUTER EYE WEAR
For greatest comfort while using your digital.devices, you’ll need an optometrist to prescribe a transition anti relective lens or a tinted lens to help reduce your exposure to potentially harmful blue light emmited from the digital devices. These anti reflective property can be incorporated into your spectacle lens used for both reading and distance vision. Ask your optometrist nearby for more help.
9. MINIMIZE GLARE
Glare from your device screen or finished wall can cause serious discomfort and digital eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor or hand held digital devices.
Also, cover the windows When outside light cannot be reduced, consider using a computer hood.Request for an Anti-Reflective lens can help reduce the amount of glare you’re exposed to.
AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.
Written by Dr. Chioma Innocent, Optometrist, Nigeria.
Image by Godaddy stock photos