Eye Health and Digital Screens: Will Looking At Screens Make My Eyesight Worse?
In a world consumed by technology, it’s not surprising to learn that our habits may have lasting impacts on our health. We grew up being told that our eyes will go square if we stare at the TV for too long; but how much of this is true? Will looking at screens for long periods of time make our eyesight worse? This guide is about to reveal all.
Does Looking At Screens Damage Your Eyes?
From jobs transitioning online to Netflix being right at our fingertips; most of what we do involves staring at a screen. While the College of Optometrists has confirmed that digital screens won’t permanently damage our eyes, it has been confirmed that they can cause eye strain or uncomfortable eye conditions. If these conditions persist, they will ultimately get worse and irritate your eyes further. This alone may damage your eyesight, causing irreversible effects.
Eye Problems Caused By Looking At Screens
It is not uncommon for people who stare at screens frequently to experience any of the following problems:
- Eye strain
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Dry eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Blurred vision
Eye Strain: Eye strain is the most common problem that occurs when looking at screens. The glare from the screen causes this type of repetitive strain injury (RSI) - typically when your screen is either too dark or too bright. When staring for a long period of time, your eyes start to struggle to adjust to the glare, causing eye muscle fatigue.
Eye strain can also occur if the position of your screen isn’t right. Your eyes are used to looking either straight ahead or slightly down; if the position of your screen doesn’t aid this, the eyes will overwork and become strained.
Headaches: Eye strain might not just affect your eyes. More times than not, people who spend a lot of time looking at screens will experience headaches, too. According to one study, up to 90% of computer users have experienced headaches from their screen at some point in their life. This is a natural response to eye strain, however factors such as screen brightness, computer position and noise levels may worsen the pain.
Dry/Itchy Eyes: Dry eye occurs when your eyes become inflamed due to a lack of tears. Without realising it, you tend to blink less when staring at a screen, meaning that your tears evaporate more quickly. This repetitive process of not blinking results in dry eyes, which can often feel irritating and itchy.
Blurred Vision: While staring at a screen won’t permanently damage your eyesight, the above problems may contribute to blurred vision. This can lead to troubles with focusing and reading.
How To Stop Eye Strain
As you can see, the majority of problems caused by staring at a screen start with eye strain. Follow the below steps to stop eye strain as and when it appears:
1. Change the position of your screen. Keep it around 25 inches away from you and make sure the top of the screen is at your eye level. For further assistance, tilt the screen back 15 degrees - this will reduce the stress on your eye muscles.
2. Sort out the light. Try as hard as you can to match the brightness of your screen to the brightness of the room. You can use lamps and natural light to your advantage here.
3. Have eye drops to hand. Eye drops provide the quickest solution to dry eyes; use them accordingly throughout the day to add lubrication.
4. Clean your screen. At the beginning and end of each day, consider cleaning your screen. A clear screen will help your eyes to maintain focus.
Top Tips For Promoting Eye Health
It’s clear to see that staring at screens for long periods of time can be damaging to your eyes. However, when your job or lifestyle depends on looking at a screen, what can be done to lower the risk of experiencing strains and irritation? The following pointers will get you on the right track:
Take Frequent Breaks: Get up and take a break from your screen every 20 minutes or so. This will help your eyes to relax and also contribute to improving posture and overall health.
Monitor Your Environment: From positioning your screen to altering the brightness, monitoring your environment can positively impact your reaction to screen exposure. Check over the tips in the ‘how to stop eye strain’ section for further information.
Remember to Blink: Blink regularly to ensure your eyes remain lubricated. Avoid staring at the same spot for longer than a few seconds.
Wear Blue Light Glasses: Glasses with a blue light filter reduce the amount of strain your eyes feel from staring at a screen all day. Wearers of blue light glasses say that they help to reduce the risk of headaches and fatigue.
Change Your Lenses: If you wear contact lenses, there’s a high chance they might be contributing to the dryness of your eyes when focusing on a screen. Switch to silicone hydrogel contact lenses with extra moisture - most daily contact lenses will instantly fix this issue.
While looking at screens won’t permanently damage your eyesight, the smaller problems caused can build up and make day-to-day life tricky. With the above tips in mind, you’ll be on the right track to feeling more energised, clear-sighted and happy. Get in touch with one of our experts if you would like further eye health guidance.