Dr. Mridula Pentapati, Consultant – Ophthalmology, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
It is like a ritual and a habit now to go to bed at night while or after seeing your phone as the last thing or wake up in the morning giving your eyes the first sight of the day as those mobile phone screens. Be it to check your emails, look for some important information, to play games, send/read a message, to watch videos, study, read or to just absent mindlessly scroll down the screens of one’s phone, giving hardly any rest to our eyes. If the eyes are off from the mobiles, there is pending work to be completed on the laptop or the office desktops or just to watch that favorite movie or web series over the weekend. The staring on digital screens has become a dominating habit in our everyday lives, almost as is breathing but it is a habit we need to limit before it becomes a major problem for our eyes.
The blue light exposure that our eyes receive from the digital screens is not excessive but the long –term effect of this exposure on our eyes come into existence due to the closeness to the screens and the long durations for which we stare at them.
HOW DO THE DIGITAL SCREENS AFFECT OUR EYES?
- The most common impact of excessive screen time on our eyes is in the form of dryness of the eyes. The constant staring, especially without blinking, reduces the moisture in our eyes. Dry eyes are further prone to complications like the blurriness of the eyes, headaches, etc.
- When we are staring at the screens of our gadget in close proximity with our eyes, we make our eyes work harder to focus than usual. Long stares close to our eyes drain our eyes and they feel exhausted due to continuous effort to bring text or images on the screen into focus.
- Inappropriate lighting and your posture while in front of these screens add to the eyestrain or Digital Eye Strain that comes with irritated or sore eyes and the struggle to focus.
- The digital devices also emit high-energy visible light (HEV) and the frequent, consistent exposure to HEV especially at night deteriorates the vision over time.
- Another condition that is likely to arise due to digital screens’ exposure is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) which is more common in adults. CVS tends to induce blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, and difficulty in focusing. Some people can also go through back, neck and shoulder pain.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR EYES SAFE?
It is certainly true that this generation comes with a greater access to these digital screens and it is an exposure one cannot avoid. However, there certainly should be a limit to avoid the damage that this exposure can lead to. Some of the small changes or steps that you can take to prevent eye strain and to keep your eyes safe include:
- Ensure that the screen is 20-26 inches away or at an arms’ distance from your eyes and is also a bit below your eye level.
- Try not to frequently move your head away from the screen while working as that constantly shifts the focus of the eyes and adds to the strain. Keep all your required documents near and handy.
- Have a chair that is suitable not only for the distance from the screen and the level of your eye but also for your neck and back positioning, while you work on your laptops or desktops.
- Having screens that can tilt and keyboards that can be adjusted, also helps.
- Make use of special screen protectors.
- The glare filters over digital screens can also be of help in reducing the strain. Anti-reflective lenses are also available that decrease the glare, increase contrast and block blue light. Some computer glasses come with a yellow-tinted lens which blocks blue light and reduces the eye strain.
- Go for regular eye checks. (Both adult and children)
- Place a source of light behind yourself while you are working on a computer.
- Keep moderate brightness of the screens of your gadget.
- For every 20 minutes that you invest staring at a screen, rest your eyes for at least 20 seconds looking at something away from the screen.
- Blink regularly while you are in front of any digital screen as that will keep your eyes moist and healthier.
- Spend as less time possible in front of your digital gadgets as possible, be mindful of how much you actually need to use those screens. Especially, children’s time on these screens must be moderated because the eyes of children are not as developed entirely which increases the harmful effect of the blue light.