SCREEN TIME & YOUR EYES – THE EFFECT OF SCREEN TIME ON YOUR EYES
In addition, prolonged screen use can cause dryness and irritation in the eyes.
According to studies, people of all ages blink much less frequently when focused on a screen, which leads to dry eyes.
For proper vision, the tear film on the surface of the eye must be steady and clear.
Impacts of Excessive Screen Time
Eye strain can result from gazing at a screen for an extended period of time. The blue light from a screen causes you to blink less, and the movement of the screen makes it more difficult for your eyes to focus.
The screen is generally not placed at the appropriate distance or angle, which might lead to additional strain.
All of these problems add up to vision problems that can last a lifetime, especially in children.
What the Research Says About Screen Time & Your Eyes
The majority of people are aware that bright lights like computer displays and the sun can harm our eyes, but they are less certain about other bright lights.
In other words, these screens cause much less harm than light does.
This is so because screens aren’t as bright as the sun and more recent displays often don’t emit UV rays, which are the sun’s most harmful light.
Instead, it is the short-wavelength, high-energy blue light that screens emit that needs to be taken into account.
Is using a screen too much bad for our eyes?
Blue light is mostly connected to the possibility of eye strain in the short term.
According to the American Optometric Association, this is typically not serious and may be resolved by regularly taking breaks from your screen and using some simple strategies to relieve tension.
According to some research, blue light from screens may eventually harm retinal cells, resulting in issues like age-related macular degeneration.
Although the whole scope of this problem is unknown, it is clearly not bad enough to force people to stop using screens altogether.
Even while prolonged screen use might irritate the eyes, vision professionals typically do not believe screens to be a source of irreversible vision loss.
You probably don’t need to be concerned if you only spend a few hours a day looking at screens and don’t have any visual problems.
The most important thing to think about when it comes to screens is whether and how much they might harm our eyes over time.
More investigation is necessary because the answer is not yet completely obvious.
The general consensus is that although excessive use of screens should be avoided, blue light from them is not a substantial contributor to long-term vision problems.
How Screen Time Affects Your Eyes
Smartphone in bed
Understandably, a lot of people believe that any bright light directed at our eyes can harm them permanently.
After all, it is generally known that the sun can harm our eyes because it is one of the brightest objects we frequently come into contact with.
In some ways, it makes fair to assume that, given enough time, even light sources that are not as bright, like computer and smartphone screens, could harm our eyes.
This is somewhat accurate, but not to the extent that most people think.
The sun emits light in a diverse spectrum. Its simultaneous production of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light gives it its characteristic white hue.
Additionally, it emits ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are invisible but can easily harm your skin over time if you are exposed to them.
While UV light skin damage is frequently discussed, the sun’s rays can also harm the eyes.
Newer screens do not emit UV rays, unlike older cathode ray screens, which are now nearly completely outdated and rarely utilized by the majority of people.
The most harmful light produced by our contemporary technology, from lightbulbs to tablets, is typically blue light.
Short wavelengths and relatively high energy levels characterize this kind of light.
Although blue light is not very harmful and is produced in much greater quantities by the sun, at least one study indicates that prolonged exposure to blue light from our devices may result in some eye damage.
Screens’ Short-Term and Long-Term Negative Effects
The short-term effects of prolonged screen usage include computer vision syndrome, often known as digital eye strain.
Even if it’s not dangerous, this condition might be inconvenient and even harmful to one’s job. It might possibly result in:
Digital eye strain is brought on by a number of factors, not just exposure to blue light.
The exposure time itself is the first component. The typical American worker spends at least seven hours in front of a screen, and some individuals look at screens for a lot longer than that.
Unfortunately, many people’s improper posture habits while staring at screens just serve to exacerbate the problem.
Look at one of the many graphs and articles online that describe how to sit at a computer properly to prevent computer vision syndrome.
The right posture and distance from your computer can significantly reduce eye strain.
While you might not feel the effects of excellent posture and ergonomics right away, you will in time.
- Try to set up suitable lighting in your workspace (or wherever you’ll be seeing a screen) so that it roughly corresponds to the amount of light your screen will be creating.
Faster eye fatigue can result from contrasting light levels, such as seeing a bright screen in a dark environment.
- Put the 20-20-20 rule to use. To reduce eye strain, follow this straightforward guideline.
All you have to do is take a break every 20 minutes or so and spend at least 20 seconds staring at anything that is around 20 feet away.
This makes it easier for your eyes to rest from trying to focus on a close-up, bright screen. You’ll notice a change in your eyes over time if you make this guideline a habit.
- While computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain is almost always temporary, some people start to experience lingering issues if they consistently experience it and do nothing to mitigate their symptoms.
- Since all emit similar rays and have comparable effects on the eyes, it doesn’t matter whether you use a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Talk to an eye doctor about the best option if you genuinely struggle with this issue to prevent more severe eye issues in the future.
- Although digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome nearly often passes quickly, some people start to develop enduring issues if they encounter it repeatedly and don’t take any measures to ease their symptoms.
If you genuinely struggle with this issue, consult an eye specialist about the best course of action for you to take in order to prevent further, more serious eye issues.
A more subtle and little-known long-term issue may be brought on by screens. Studies that revealed damaged retinal cells could result from prolonged exposure to blue light brought this to light. Vision blurring issues including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been connected to this. Although AMD cannot be cured, it can be controlled.
You can take a few steps to shield your eyes from blue light. The easiest solution is to just cut back on screen time.
According to some data, children’s eyes are more sensitive to blue light than adults’ eyes. Less screen time is recommended for kids than for adults.
To lessen the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes, there are filters and specialized eyewear.
Since they lessen how bright your screen is in comparison to the rest of the room, several of these filters can also aid with eye strain.
For at least a few hours each day that you spend in front of a screen, you can benefit from utilizing the filters or wearing these glasses.
In 2021 and beyond, there will be a record number of people working from home, increasing the amount of time spent on screens.
When you work from home, Zoom or other video meetings take the place of all in-person meetings, so you spend a lot more time staring at a screen than you would on an ordinary day.
Keep in mind to frequently look away from your computer screen throughout the day.
Get up and move about for around five minutes. Both your body and your eyes require a break.
You can also think about turning off notifications on your other devices, such as your tablet or phone.
This makes it possible for you to actually take breaks during meals or after work, guaranteeing that even if you work from home, you aren’t tethered to your screens.
Children’s Screen Time
Due to online learning and fewer in-person social interactions with friends, the COVID-19 epidemic significantly increased the amount of screen time for many children. And many parents were already concerned about their children’s screen use.
Even while all screen time is beneficial for children, you should advise your kids to limit their usage.
Overuse of screens has been associated with behavioral issues, low self-esteem, irregular sleep habits, and obesity.
Here are a few advice:
- Put a daily time limit on screen time, and make that time limit clear. Generally, a max of 1 to 2 hours is recommended.
- Set up no-device areas, like the dining room and kitchen, where no one (adults included) can use their devices.
- Don’t allow devices in bedrooms. This can help to protect solid sleep schedules.
- Don’t eat in front of screens.
- Watch screens together. Make it a chosen family activity rather than a mindless individual one.
How worried should you be?
You probably don’t need to worry if, after prolonged computer or smartphone use, you don’t have considerable eye strain or other problems.
There is no comparison between gazing at a screen and gazing at the sun. It’s doubtful that you will ever develop any screen-related visual issues if you simply use screens for a few hours a day.
The greatest worry is the potential contribution of blue light to age-related macular degeneration.
Although macular degeneration is treatable, it is not a life-threatening condition and can cause blindness.
The problem can be controlled such that it advances gradually even though it won’t go away.
The majority of AMD patients are able to control the disease’s progression and can continue to have some degree of decent vision for many years.
Age-related macular degeneration is not only brought on by blue light. It results from the interaction of numerous elements.
Limiting your screen time may be beneficial if you think you have AMD.
It’s difficult to pin down the precise quantity of appropriate screen time.
The majority of vision specialists are not overly concerned that displays cause much if any, permanent harm, but in some circumstances, screens can cause pain or even more significant issues.
In the end, spending all day staring at a screen is unhealthy. Other issues besides vision-related ones are raised by excessive screen usage.
Extended screen time has been associated with a number of health problems, including obesity and insomnia.
Overall, the 20-20-20 rule and limiting your screen time to a few hours per day should be sufficient to prevent any significant visual issues associated with screen time.
Potential effects of screen time, include:
Eye fatigue – Your eyes can get tired from intense use causing double vision, headaches, and concentration difficulties.
Dry and irritated eyes – You tend to blink less when staring at a screen and your eyes can become dry and irritated.
You should avoid dry eye because it can impact the health of your eye and cause blurry vision.
Loss of focus flexibility – Typically, loss of focus flexibility happens as we age, but excessive screen time can impact our ability to adjust our eyes to see at all distances quickly.
Nearsightedness – Screen time can keep our kids indoors, which can have a long-term impact on eye health.
In children, natural daylight is important to developing eyes. Studies have shown children who spend more time indoors are more likely to develop nearsightedness.
Retinal damage – Digital devices release blue light, which can reach the inner lining of the back of your eye (retina).
Studies show that blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. This can lead to early age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of eyesight.
According to the American Optometric Association, children are more likely than adults to experience when
Additionally, a lot of screen time might also negatively affect your ability to sleep. When used close to bedtime, blue light, according to research, disrupts the brain’s sleep patterns.
The brain can alter the body’s sleep cycle because it perceives the screen light as daylight.
Guidelines for Preventing Eye Damage from Too Much Screen Time
You can take simple actions to lower your risk of eye strain or damage, such as:
Adjust the lighting – The brightness of most screens can be changed. You’ll have to strain your eyes more to see if your screen is brighter than the ambient light.
To lessen eye strain, adjust the lighting in your home or on your screen and boost the contrast.
Give your eyes a break – The 20-20-20 rule is advised by the American Ophthalmological Society to lessen eye strain.
Every 20 minutes, take a break by gazing at anything 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Your eyes get a respite and can refocus as a result.
Keep your eyes moist – if they feel dry, moisten them with artificial tears. Your space’s heaters and air conditioners might further dry up your eyes in addition to screen time.
Maintain a safe distance – Your eyes have to work harder when the screen is close to your face, so keep it approximately arm’s length or 25 inches away from your eyes.
Additionally, the screen should be angled so that you are slightly gazing downward.
Reduce glare – It’s crucial to place the screen to avoid creating a glare from inside or outside lighting. Glare can make the eye even more uncomfortable.
Implement blue light filters – The amount of blue light that appears on your screen can be reduced with a blue light filter.
Your eyes won’t feel as worn out at the end of the day if you lower this light.
Annual eye exam – Get a yearly eye exam so your doctor can assess your vision and look for any signs of developing chronic eye diseases.
If you take action to lessen your eye discomfort, the effects of too much screen time on your eyes can be easily avoided.
If symptoms start to appear, your safeguards are definitely inadequate.
Talk to your primary care practitioner if the above-mentioned straightforward suggestions don’t work for you since you might have an underlying eye issue, such as an imbalance in your eye muscles or incorrect vision.
How many hours of screen time is safe for the eyes?
The 20/20/20 rule is advised by the American Optometric Association: glance away from the screen once every 20 minutes, then fix your gaze on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
Additionally, kids should take a break from their screens every hour for at least 10 minutes.
Can phone screens damage your eyes?
Blue Light from Phone Screens
Perhaps you are more knowledgeable about UV rays and the harm they can do. Despite the fact that blue light waves are less effective than UV waves, there are still lots of potential hazards.
The retina is harmed by prolonged blue light exposure, which is bad for eyesight and eye health.
How do I protect my eyes from screen time?
Allow your eyes to rest.
Try the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and concentrate on something that is at least 20 feet away.
What are the symptoms of too much screen time?
- Blurry vision.
- Brain fog.
- Strained eyes.
- Sleep problems.
- Emotional growth and emotional skills.
- Difficulties with problem-solving, etc.