The Effect of Screen Time on Your Eyes
During these times of physical distancing, it’s understandable if most of us are spending more time on our devices. But how much screen time is too much, and how can it affect our eyes?
Long-Term Effects of Screen Time
Modern screens produce blue light, which is a short-wavelength and high-energy light. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of blue light exposure are still unclear. Some eye health professionals are concerned that added blue light exposure from all our various devices may increase a person’s risk of macular degeneration — a condition that may lead to blurred or reduced vision over time — later in life. Until more research is available though, it’s still hard to say how much blue light exposure is too much.
Short-Term Effects of Screen Time
There is, at least, a bit more information on the short-term effects of blue light exposure. When combined with prolonged screen time and bad posture and distancing from your computer, it can lead to computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain. Symptoms may include headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, and dry or irritated eyes.
Try these fixes the next time you experience any of these symptoms:
- The 20-20-20 rule: Take a break every 20 minutes to look at something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. You can set a timer to remind yourself.
- Proper lighting: The light level of the room should be similar to the light on your screen. Contrasting levels of light can strain the eyes faster.
- Posture and distancing: Sit about 2 feet from the computer screen; the centre of the computer monitor should be slightly below your eye line, about 4 to 8 inches.
- Keep your eyes moist. Artificial tears or a desktop humidifier may help. Another easy fix? Remind yourself to blink more often.
- Use a matte screen filter to reduce glare on your computer screen, smartphone or tablet.
- Limit screen time 1 to 2 hours before bed. Use nighttime settings on devices to reduce blue light exposure.
Computer vision syndrome is usually not serious and goes away once you take steps to reduce discomfort. If symptoms continue however, you might have other underlying issues like uncorrected vision, which can cause or worsen discomfort. See an eye health professional if this is the case.
So how worried should you be?
As with most things in life, a moderate amount is fine. Try to limit your screen time to a few hours a day and use some of the tips listed above. Remembering to give your eyes an occasional break from electronic screens should be enough to reduce risk of any major vision problems related to screen time. For more information, contact us today!