Did you know that Americans spend an average of 11 hours a day looking at some type of screen? That’s almost half of an entire day! Maybe that surprises you, but most likely, it doesn’t. Screens are a normal part of our lives. Many of us need them for work, and most of us want them for entertainment. There’s certainly nothing wrong with screens, and it’d be nearly impossible to try to eliminate them from our lives altogether; but it’s important to know the effects of extended screen time so that we can do our best to protect our eyes—after all, we only have two of them!
So how exactly do screens affect vision? Screens expose our eyes to blue light. (Learn more about blue light and how to protect your eyes from blue light.) While blue light is extremely important to be aware of, it is not the only thing about screens that affects our eyes. A lot of the negative effects that screens have on our eyes fall under the category of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
CVS is also referred to as digital eye strain. This syndrome categorizes a variety of physical problems that many people will experience after extended and frequent screen time. Televisions, tablets, smartphones, computer screens, laptops, and e-readers are just a few of the screens that can cause CVS. Some symptoms of CVS, such as headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain, are not related to your vision. But CVS can affect your vision in a few different ways.
Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
CVS has multiple symptoms, and they can vary from person to person. One extremely common symptom is eye strain, which can include tired eyes, blurry vision, double vision, light sensitivity, dry eyes, sore eyes, eye twitching, and more. If you are experiencing any of these issues, you may benefit from limiting your screen time when possible.
If you are unable to limit daily screen time due to your job or other demands, there are a few easy practices you can implement to your everyday routine to reduce the negative effects of screens on your eyes.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule. When you’re working at a computer or staring at the television for an extended period of time, take a break every 20 minutes and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. These intermittent breaks provide much needed rest for your hardworking eyes.
Visit your eye doctor regularly. Scheduling annual eye examinations is critical for your overall eye health, especially if you already wear glasses or contacts. Annual eye exams ensure that your prescriptions are up to date and prevent your eyes from unnecessary strain.
Remember to blink. This might sound silly, but we tend to blink less the longer we stare at screens, which can lead to dry eyes. Put a sticky note on your work computer to remind yourself to blink.
Screens can negatively affect our vision, especially when we spend a lot of time looking at them. Even if you are not experiencing any of the negative symptoms listed in this blog post, be proactive in protecting your eyes and keeping them healthy. If you think you are experiencing Computer Vision Syndrome or have more questions about how to protect your eyes from screens, contact Broberg Eye Care today.