My eyes hurt.
Yes. You heard me right. My eyes hurt. And yours probably aren’t feeling their best right now as you read this article staring at your computer screen, phone, or tablet (don’t stop reading though…)
Ever since my parents first got dial up internet, my screen time has increased like…. 10 fold. I had a 1 hour allowance for playing snood back then, and nowadays, it’s pretty safe to assume that whether it’s working on my laptop, compulsively checking social media, or texting, my screen time is at about 10-12 hours a day.
I do believe technology has changed our lives for the better, but not without sacrifice.
So, let me justify my 10-12 hours. I run this site, I work in digital marketing, and I have a long distance relationship (which means sometimes it’s like I’m dating my phone). All of this has resulted in some serious eye strain, and what seems like a permanent bloodshot vein in my left eye.
So, I decided to do a little research on the real life effects that screen time can have on my overall health, short term and long term.
Muscles get tired.
Your eye is a muscle. So, like all muscles, if you work them too much, you will strain them and damage them. All muscles, eyes including, need to rest in order to rebuild and repair themselves.
Blue light is damaging.
According to Dr. Christopher Starr, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, as reported by CBS, “most digital screens are backlit and emit blue light, or high-energy visible (HEV) light wavelengths, which can cause irritation and possibly long-term damage to the retina. Blue light is also known to suppress the sleep hormone melatonin, causing an artificial feeling of wakefulness and disrupting sleep patterns, which can add to eye strain.”
You forget to blink.
Dr. Starr also shared that “Dryness, caused by reduced blinking while staring at screens, is also a common factor in digital eye strain. A person's blink rate -- normally about 15-20 times per minute -- can decrease by up to half when people are fixated on what they're viewing on a screen.”
How to combat it:
Clearly, I am not able to avoid screens. So, I need to figure out how to minimize damage to my eyeballs. Here are some methods that I’ve learned about- some I’ve already adopted, while others I want to start trying….
1. Dimming screens. By editing your computer screen brightness to match the brightness of your surrounding environment, you can reduce the strain involved with it being too bright, or too dark, to read. Also, keeping your phone on night time mode all the time (except when taking or editing photos) actually decreases your exposure to blue light, which is why Apple created ‘night time mode’ in the first place.
2. Use the 20-20-20 rule. To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes by constantly focusing on your screen, look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.I feel like I do this, especially while people watching at my fave coffee shops around town. So, I guess I will keep it up and make a more conscientious effort. Some articles suggested setting an alarm every 20 minutes to remind you.
3. Wearing blue light blocking glasses. These specs are clear and have no prescription in them- their sole purpose is to block blue light emitted from your digital screens. Mer turned me onto these about a year ago. I need to be better about wearing them. We bought this pair.
4. Lastly, Even better than putting your devices on night time mode- completely shut them off at night. This is beneficial for so many other reasons (it allows you to get a better night’s rest, gives you time for self care, and allows you to spend uninterrupted time with your significant other, family, roommates, or pup). It also gives your eyes a rest when they are at their tiredest state, allowing them to repair. I also need to work on this. (Am I the only one that cuddles their cell in their sleep?)
Do you have any tips on how to reduce eye damage in our technology- driven world?