Over the past decade, we have witnessed a gradual shift in our ‘focus’. Papers have been replaced by computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Electronic devices have taken over our lives at work and play. While adding convenience to our lives, this tech surge is threatening our well-being and our eyes have paid the greatest price. Before we list down tips to protect your eyes, here’s what you need to know.
How Computers/Mobile Phones Are Affecting Your Eyes?
Digital eye strain (DES), also known as computer vision syndrome, encompasses a range of ocular and visual symptoms. According to a 2018 study published in the British Medical Journal Open Ophthalmology, it is suggested that the prevalence of digital eye strain could be as high as 50% and more among computer users. It is characterised by a range of eye and vision-related symptoms and has been a recognised health problem for over 20 years.
According to the American Optometric Association, the most common symptoms associated with DES are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes and pain in the neck and shoulders. Given the massive growth in digital device usage in recent years, many millions of individuals of all ages are at risk of DES. Numerous studies have shown that the average urban adult spends more than 6 hours a day staring at the screen of gadgets. No wonder more than 30% of the urban population complain of blurred vision, itchy & red eyes, tiredness and stiff neck.
While adding convenience to our lives, this tech-surge is threatening our well-being and our eyes have paid the greatest price. Beside other perils, almost all TVs, computers and smartphones emit High-Energy Visible (HEV) light or more commonly known ‘Blue’ light. Exposure to blue light (400–500 nm) can be harmful to the retina. Moreover, exposure to this light for a longer duration even with a low intensity can induce photochemical damage. This can damage tissues in the retina permanently, causing a gradual loss of vision.
Tips To Protect Your Eyes
So, here is a list of actionable points to protect the eyes while being exposed to screens for large parts of the day.
1. While it is advisable and possible to sit at least 10 feet away from the TV, the same technique cannot be employed while using a desktop or laptop. However, it is not difficult to maintain an arm’s length with the screen. Also, place the computer screen at eye-level, so you do not have to hunch while working on the keyboard.
2. There should be a minimum distance of 16 inches (3/4th of an arm’s length) between the eye and your prized smartphone. Any less and your eyes become susceptible to the harmful HEV light.
3. Our eyes are best suited to working in natural light. Adjust the screen’s brightness to the level of the environment. It should not be difficult for you to read the screen, at any cost. Play around with the font sizes to your comfort.
4. Try the famed 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent on the screen, take 20 seconds to break to stare at something that is 20 feet away from you. This will adjust your eyesight back to normal and you can resume.
5. Stare at something green for a minute after every 20 minutes on the screen. Green colour has a relaxing effect on the eyes.
6. Do not forget to blink while being exposed to the screen for long periods. Blinking helps in the maintenance of a normal ocular surface which triggers a cycle of secretion, dispersal, evaporation and drainage of tears. In simple terms, it lubricates the eye-balls and helps you focus along with lowering the risk of dry eyes, which is a common symptom of computer vision syndrome.
7. Use an ‘Anti-glare’ screen cover on your computer as well as hand-held devices. These easily available screen-covers protect your eyes as well as your device’s screen.
8. While it may attract unwelcome attention, using shades while at the computer cuts off the screen’s glare and help eyes stay cool and hydrated.
9. Do not compromise on sleep. 8 hours of effective shut-eye will rejuvenate the eyes and rid them of the tiredness accumulated through the day.
10. Include at least one portion of vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and peas in your daily diet. Zeaxanthin and Lutein in these vegetables are good for the eyes. The Vitamin A contained in carrots help the eyes as well. Have one raw carrot each day.
So, adopt these simple and effective ways to ensure that your eyes are in optimal health. If you notice any unusual symptoms like the blurring of vision, pain in eyes, itching in eyes or too frequent headaches, consult your doctor. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!
1. Sheppard AL, Wolffsohn JS. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2018 Apr 16;3(1):e000146.
2. American Optometric Association. Computer vision syndrome. 2017.