Between our smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and TVs, it’s not unusual for Canadian adults to spend nine or more hours a day looking at screened devices. But does our daily use of technology have a negative effect on our eyesight?
Maybe, though it’s still somewhat controversial, there’s some evidence that suggests that prolonged exposure to backlit screens can cause long-term vision problems and may lead you to become more near-sighted. However, there are a number of things that can be done to minimize the harmful impacts of staring at a screen for hours on end.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR EYES WHEN USING TECHNOLOGY
There are a couple of things that happen when you stare at an electronic screen. The first is you blink a lot less. The usual blink rate is somewhere between 15 to 20 blinks per minute, but when you focus on an object close at hand, the rate drops to about half the normal frequency. This can result in dry eye, a condition characterized by a lack of tears to lubricate and nourish the eye.
The other physiological effect of using a screened device is that your eyes tend to converge slightly. This activates the muscles in your eyes and, after a while, may cause eyestrain, which can lead to in headaches, eye irritation, fatigue or blurred vision.
PROTECTING YOUR EYES WHEN USING COMPUTERS AND OTHER DEVICES
Smaller scale eye problems—and possibly long-term vision loss—can be diminished by implementing the following practices.
The 20-20-20 rule. To prevent strain, your eye muscles should be given frequent short breaks. Every 20 minutes, shift your gaze from whatever device you’re looking at to a point 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This small action will give your eye muscles the chance they need to recover from the exertion that occurs from staring at objects in close proximity.
Tweak your devices. Part of what makes looking at screens so difficult is the high contrast between, for example, text and background. Stark black on white is exhausting for the eye to look at for long periods of time. However, many computers allow you to adjust screen brightness and contrast, and particular types of software may also allow you to modify background colours to tones that don’t contrast as starkly.
Cut down on glare. When it comes to reading on screened devices, too much indoor lighting may be worse for your eyes. Substantial glare might be created, which then puts additional strain on your eyes. Minimizing glare can also be accomplished by using certain types of screens and an anti-glare coating on your glasses can also be effective.
GET AN ANNUAL EYE EXAM
If you use screened devices on a daily basis, you should be vigilant about getting your eyes checked for vision and overall wellness once every year. However, if you experience blurred vision, sore eyes, or difficulty seeing, please get a hold of us immediately. The Eyewear Place serves patients out of our two locations—Fort McMurray and Lloydminster. Contact us to make an appointment today.