It seems that we are increasingly glued to some kind of digital screen, whether at home, work or play. Big ones, small ones, tablet-sized ones and even tiny ones we wear on our wrist. Our faces are illuminated from morning into the night.
Ever wondered what all that artificial light is doing to your precious eyesight? Well, you should.
A recent study from the Alexandria, Va.-based Vision Council shows that more than 60 percent of adults experience digital eye strain, a temporary discomfort experienced after spending more than two hours reading a computer screen.
Jennifer Tekiele, an optometrist at the Michigan Eye Institute in Flint, has seen a considerable increase in digital eyestrain over the last several years. “With computers, tablets, smart phones, video games, etcetera, we sometimes see patients who are on digital devices more than seven hours a day,” she says.
Digital devices often feature small print and images, which causes our eyes to strain in order to focus. And considering that uncorrected eyestrain can lead to headaches and blurry vision – some even believe that it can cause nearsightedness – it’s important that patients address the issue during their routine eye exams.
“Many patients benefit from a light computer prescription with a non-glare coating to alleviate eye strain,” says Tekiele, who also recommends taking frequent breaks from digital devices. “At least once an hour, you should take a five-minute break and look out a window or down the long hallway.”
The Vision Council also suggests increasing font sizes and adjusting contrast/brightness to make the text easier to read at a comfortable distance. (Ideally, your computer screen should be positioned so that it is one arm’s length in front of your face.)
What’s more, it’s important to be aware of the potential damage that could be caused by overexposure to blue light, which is emitted from backlit displays of our devices. The light can be responsible for changes in sleep patterns and has also been linked to macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss, Tekiele says.
“Blue light blocking lenses have become increasingly popular over the last several years,” she says. “Many of these lenses, however, are not covered by insurance. We’re hoping to see that change in the near future.”
To read the full 2015 Digital Eye Strain report, click here.