Display screens may be damaging your vision

Display screens may be damaging your vision

As technology continues to advance, people are spending more and more time in front of screens. While some may consider this a bad habit and others an unavoidable consequence of the digital revolution, staring at a screen too much can cause uncomfortable eye issues.

Extended or frequent computer, tablet and smartphone use can lead to a host of eye problems like eye strain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision and double vision. Taken together, these conditions are sometimes referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome, according to an article in Survey of Ophthalmology.

“There is no set time limit for how long you should spend in front of a screen. Some people can stare at a screen all day long with no symptoms, while others are more easily affected,” says Dr. Harold Sy, an ophthalmologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “The two main issues people experience are dry eye and eye strain from accommodation, the act of focusing up close.”

Dr. Sy adds that due to the natural weakening of the muscles responsible for near vision, those over the age of 45 often experience additional difficulty seeing things up close. This could result in eye pain, headaches, or the need for reading glasses.

The “20-20-20 Rule” could help protect your eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). After looking at a screen for 20 minutes, avert your eyes and focus on something about 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Repeat this process every 20 minutes during your screen time. The AAO also advises sitting about 25 inches away from your screen and adjusting it so your gaze is slightly downward; this will also help to reduce dry eye.

“To combat dryness due to computer use, consider using artificial tears as needed and make a conscious effort to blink frequently,” says Dr. Sy. “When concentrating on something that requires visual attention such as a computer, TV or phone, the eyes blink less and are therefore more exposed. Making an effort to blink can lower your risk for dryness, irritation, light sensitivity and even eye pain.”

For people who continue to experience these conditions, Dr. Sy recommends visiting an ophthalmologist to rule out any more serious issues.

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One Comment

  1. Dr. Jeffrey Huetttemann March 16, 2016 at 11:13 am · Reply

    Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is definitely a problem in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. We see it all the time. Artificial tears can help for occasional dryness and burning issues, but a medication called Restasis will make your own eyes produce better tears themselves. With all of the computer use in Bloomington, many benefit from special spectacle lenses that are called Computer or VDT lenses. An anti glare coating called Prevencia blocks the harmful wavelengths of light emitted from display terminals, handheld devices, fluorescent and LED bulbs. Please ask your local optometrist or ophthalmologist about these options if you would like more information.
    Dr. Jeffrey Huetttemann
    Bloomington, Illinois

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